Tuesday night the Columbus Blue Jackets took to the ice to face the Washington Capitals in the team’s first game since the NHL trade deadline on Monday. Joining them, and making his debut as a Blue Jacket, was 6′-5″ defenseman Justin Falk.
The Blue Jackets acquired Falk, as well as a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft, in a deal with the Minnesota Wild that sent Jordan Leopold back to his native North Star State. In 13 games with the Wild this season, Falk averaged just over 9 minutes TOI and put 10 shots on goal without tallying a point. Although more could, and should, be expected from him offensively, Falk has contributed in the defensive zone with 15 blocked shots and six hits.
Donning number 44 with the Jackets (previously worn by Rostislav Klesla and Grant Clitsome, among others), Falk was paired with the 6′-3″ Dalton Prout. The result, obviously, was a rather formidable duo guarding the blue line.
Falk wasted little time getting involved in the game by laying a solid hit on Washington centerman Evgeny Kuznetsov in the Capitals’ zone. Later in the first period, after recording his only shot for the game, Falk again laid on the body with the victim this time being winger Tom Wilson. With Wilson’s helmet careening across the ice, Washington’s Michael Latta took exception to the hit and granted Falk an opportunity to drop the gloves for the first time as a Jacket.
It wasn’t much of a scrap, with Falk getting the worst of it, but I admire the kid’s heart and willingness to throw down.
Falk was quiet for the remainder of the game, however, recording no further hits in his 13:13 minutes of ice time (the fewest among all Columbus D-men). Coach Richards was likely taking it easy on the big defenseman, considering a very active first period in a very phsyical gamne that also saw fights involving Prout, David Clarkson, Jared Boll, and Cody Goloubef.
The Jackets would ultimately fall to the Capitals 5-3, but the team showed real spirit on the ice with Falk making an admirable debut.
More Notes of Interest
More from Columbus Blue Jackets
- Will Rene Bourque Find A Home with the Columbus Blue Jackets?
- Columbus Blue Jackets Split Weekend Home-and-Away Pair
- Jordan Leopold to Minnesota: A Trade with Heart
- Examining the James Wisniewski Trade to the Anaheim Ducks
- Grading David Clarkson’s First Weekend as a Columbus Blue Jacket
During Prout’s fisticuffs with Jason Chimera in the latter stages of the second period, Clarkson was granted a 10-minute game misconduct penatly (for excessive shoving, apparently) and did not return. An upper body injury was mentioned during the broadcast, and the Jackets confirmed late today that Clarkson suffered a torn oblique muscle. He’ll be out 4 to 6 weeks.
One of the handful of reasons to be apprehensive about losing James Wisniewski on Monday was the success that the Jackets have had on the power play (ranked eighth going into Tuesday’s game at 20.4%). Columbus was given two chances to convert against Washington, and did so in the third period with Scott Hartnell wristing one past Braden Holtby. With that tally, the Blue Jackets increase their PP% to 20.7% and hold on to the eighth spot overall.
Perhaps the biggest news of the night was Sergei Bobrovsky back in net for Columbus. Although he got rocked for 4 goals on 32 shots (Washington’s fifth was an empty-netter), Bobs looked quite agile and showed no lingering effects from the groin injury that had sidelined him since January 21st.
The Blue Jackets get a nice two day break before hitting the road to take on the New Jersey Devils on Friday.