COLUMBUS Its been a miserable season for the Columbus Blue Jackets any way you look at it. They are, however, coming off of one of their better efforts of the season in Friday nights 4-3 home win against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Theyll play a second consecutive game tonight at Nationwide Arena against the Sharks.
Were really hoping to build off of last night and bring it into tonight, Rick Nash said on Saturday morning. Two home games in a row is exciting, and hopefully we can get two wins in a row out of it.
Right now weve got a little small snowball in our hand. Were putting it in the ground, and hopefully we can roll it and turn it into the base of a snowman, head coach Todd Richards said. Thats where youve got to start. Get the foundation going, and then add to the top of it.
The game marked the first win for Richards, who replaced Scott Arniel as head coach of the Blue Jackets on Monday and lost his debut in Chicago on Tuesday, 5-2. Richards, the former head coach of the Minnesota Wild, was an assistant under Todd McLellan in San Jose for one season.
Its the second meeting between the Sharks and Blue Jackets, as San Jose won 2-1 at HP Pavilion on Jan. 5 behind goals from Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe. Thomas Greiss, who will start again tonight, got the win with 23 saves in net.
My feeling on that game was San Jose was better than us, Richards said. We did probably get the result that we should have gotten. I did think we battled and competed, but they were better in certain areas than we were.
The Sharks outshot the Blue Jackets, 39-24.
When youre coming out of your own end and you just throw it out, obviously the other team is going to have the puck the whole night, Nash said. It seemed like we were doing a bit of that last game against San Jose.
One player to watch for Columbus is forward Derek Brassard, who is playing on the injury-plagued Blue Jackets top line. Forward Jeff Carter is on injured reserve with a separated shoulder, while forward R.J. Umberger and defenseman James Wisniewski are also unavailable.
Brassard had the game-winning goal and an assist, and had a key blocked shot at the end of the game to preserve the rare win for Columbus (12-26-5).
Hes playing hungry for the puck, he wants the puck, hes moving his feet a lot, Nash said. Hes making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen. He can be a top player in this league, hes just got to believe in himself and keep working at it.
Since Ive been here, 43 games, this is the best game Ive seen him play, said Richards, who started the season as an assistant before taking over the main duties. I think where he excelled was his play without the puck. He put himself in positions to get the puck, and once he got the puck, then he made plays.
One more note regarding the Blue Jackets: they reportedly picked up forward Colton Gillies off of waivers from Minnesota this morning. Hes not expected to play tonight.