Last night was an eye-opener for the young Jackets. They came out flying, at one point early in the first period they were outshooting the Wings by a margin of 7-1. If not for some huge saves by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, the Jackets could have been up by two or three goals.
That said, the Wings slowly started to gel, and in typical Detroit playoff fashion, began to take the game over. The Jackets were at times simply overwhelmed. Combined that factor with some unfavorable bounces, and the Wings came out with a 4-1 victory.
Coach Ken Hitchcock was quoted as saying that he and the coaching staff would not wait for chemistry to develop, so could that lead to some changes to the lineup?
I certainly think there will be. I think it's safe to say the second line of Antoine Vermette, RJ Umberger and Jakub Voracek will remain intact, but players such as Jason Chimera, Raffi Torres or Mike Peca could see their minutes and role reduced, or be benched outright.
Contract terms aside, the Jackets have in their back pocket a potentially strong weapon. That weapon is Nikita Filatov. He was brought up to the big squad for the purpose of practicing with the team, and to be involved in a playoff atmosphere. It has to be tantalizing though, to have such an offensively gifted player in their midst, and the coaching staff might not be able to keep him out of the lineup any longer.
Jason Chimera has been ineffective since his return from injury, so could the third line be changed from last night's trio of Chimera, Mike Peca and Fredrik Modin to a more offensive Filatov, Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin combination? It's certainly possible.
I guess we'll see on Saturday night!