Following a big win over Philadelphia on Monday, the Jackets now face the Edmonton Oilers - a team one might almost call the looking glass version of the Blue Jackets - the teams have a great deal in common, really:
- Small market cities
- Problems attractive free agents
- Questionable management moves
- A recent history of coaching issues
- Attempting to build with talented young players
- Offensively talented, defensively questionable, and unpredictable goaltending
I'd also say that personally, given Edmonton's 0-2-1 road record so far, this team is a "Should Win" situation. But, really, it isn't that cut and dried. Looking at the record ignores the fact that the Oilers have some exceptional young players - not only #1 overall pick Taylor Hall, but the lightning quick Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle, who seems like he could easily become the next big workhorse for the Oil after a fantastic junior career. Oh, and don't forget guys like Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, and former Jacket Gilber Brule, all of whom have been solid offensive contributors for their club.
Even more seriously, this is a team that Columbus CANNOT let up on if they get a lead. On Tuesday night, I watched the Calgary Flames go up 4-1 on the Oilers in the third period, but as they settled back, expecting to coast into a win, the Oilers made them pay with three goals in five minutes. They scored on rushes, they scored by crashing the net, and they scored by just going into traffic and getting dirty. Calgary would eventually win in a shootout, but the lesson is clear: there is no such thing as a "Safe" lead against a team with so much offensive firepower. The Jackets need to exploit the Edmonton defense, using the inexperience of their young guns to the advantage of savvy vets like Nash, Vermette, Umberger, and Clark.
It also helps that Edmonton is reportedly starting Devan Dubnyk, whose record in the NHL is replete with failure. (4-10-2 in 16 NHL starts, with a 3.57 GAA.) Dubnyk is getting his first start of the 2010-2011 season, and he is 0-2 lifetime against the Jackets. The team needs to make sure that record continues on an 0-3 trend.
Keys To The Game:
- Continued Effort - The Jackets need to come out the way they did Monday - take control of the game from the first drop of the puck, and not let off the gas. If they can outwork the Oilers in this game, it will go a long way to success.
- KEEP FIRING, ASSHOLES! - I repeat, this is a goalie with a lifetime .860% save percentage against Columbus. The more this team loads up shots at the net, the better the chances that pucks will go in. Columbus has yet to score more than three goals in a game in the regular season. Perhaps we change that tonight.
- Protect The Net - If you look at a lot of the Oilers goals this year, they've come off of odd-man rushes or tight in scrums around the net. Against Philly, the Jackets did a much better job of forcing the Flyers away from the crease. They need to control the puck behind and around the net, and keep Edmonton out of the slot.
- Cash In Advantages - While the Oiler PK has produced 2 shorthanded goals (both by Eberle), it also has serious flaws. If the Jackets get on the power play, they need to exploit the weaknesses in the Oiler's PK strategies (or lack thereof) and bury their chances.
On the Jackets side of things, Nick Holden will stay in the lineup to give Kris Russell a little extra time to heal. I'm betting that means we see Russ in Colorado on Saturday. Mike Commodore is expecting to be back within the next 2 weeks, and it sounds like Filatov is working his way out of the doghouse:
He competed well in Chicago. He competed well against Philly. He didn’t have a lot of ice time, but that will improve because he showed me he’s willing to (compete) and he’s shown his teammates he’s willing to do that.- Scott Arniel
Fearless Prediction: Nick Holden gets his first NHL goal tonight.
|Game Time: 7:00pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: WBNS 97.1
|Oilers vs Blue Jackets coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: The Copper & Blue|
More after the jump:
Blue Jackets Information:
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Derek Dorsett|
|Dustin Penner||Sam Gagner||Ales Hemsky|
|Magnus Paajarvi||Shawn Horcoff||Jordan Eberle|
|Taylor Hall||Andrew Cogliano||Gilber Brule|
|Ryan Jones||Colin Fraser||Zack Stortini|
|Ryan Whitney||Tom Gilbert|
|Ladislav Smid||Theo Peckham|
|Jim Vandermeer||Jason Strudwick|