Game 36 Preview: You Want It To Be One Way, But It's The Other Way.

After a hot road start and a weak home record, the Jackets have struggled on the road, the latest being a 4-1 loss to Chicago last night (Mike will have a recap up later - I'm afraid I missed the game entirely due to travelling home from the holidays). In one of their last games before the new year, the Jackets play on the second night of a back to back against an opponent, the Minnesota Wild, who also had to play last night, leaving no real advantage to either side.

A lot of fans who were excited by the team's strong start are now frustrated and scratching their heads over what happened to the guys who were playing in October and early November - those guys, even in losses, at least made the games exciting and entertaining. The last few games have looked more like a slow moving ballet of suffering. I've no doubt that Scott Howson is trying to find options, now that the NHL's holiday trade freeze is over, but how many teams are willing to deal right now, and what can he offer?

As much as people scoff at the idea, the team needs to find their answers from the inside. Nobody will walk into the dressing room to hand it to them.

The Jackets need tonight, badly. It's a chance for a win at home, a touch of self-respect, and perhaps most importantly, a game that will be televised nationally - the only one selected by Versus, and one of a handful that will be covered nationally by the Canadian media. 

Here's hoping we give them a show.

Essentials:

Game Time: 7:30 pm EST
TV: Versus (HD), TSN-2 (HD)
Radio: 97.1 WFAN
Wild vs Blue Jackets coverage
Opponent's Blog: Hockey Wilderness 

With both teams coming off games last night, it's going to be a contest to see who can keep their energy and motivation going longer. The team who gets on top first will have an edge to grind down their opponent.

The only real edge for the Jackets in this is that they had a shorter flight from Chicago, while the Wild had to fly in from Minnesota. It's not much, but we'll take it.

Oddly enough, both teams have a perfect record when leading after 2 periods - something in them gives the edge to shut the door on an opponent, while they both struggle when trailing - in fact, the Wild have yet to win a game this season when trailing after 1 period in a game. 

Keys To The Game:

  • Show Them It's About The Work - The Jackets have been successful this year, even during some of the latest slump, when they go out and skate like hell. The harder they work, the more success they find, which makes it even more frustrating when they come out flat.
  • Handle This Like Businessmen - While Minnesota's power play has cooled off from when they were the top road PP in the NHL, it's still dangerous, especially with Brent Burns leading NHL defensemen in goal scoring. The Jackets got eaten alive on the PK last night. They need to keep it 5 on 5 or take the advantage, rather than making themselves vulnerable.
  • Come At The King, You Best Not Miss - Derrick Brassard found the back of the net last night by shooting, shooting again, and shooting more. Guys like Jake Voracek and Kristian Huselius, who find themselves goal-less again, need to do the same. The Wild are expected to start Jose Theodore tonight - if they see opportunities, take them! Don't look for the cute pass, just bury it.
  • @$*# the #@$*ing Numbers Already - Like I mentioned, this team has not been a good "come from behind" squad in 2010-2011. The Wild are, if anything, an even worse team at regaining the lead. If the Jackets get down early, they need to sack up and keep hammering away - getting back in the game and putting themselves back over the top might be enough to drop the Wild out of the match.

 

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page  Schedule
Roster Stats

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Kristian Huselius Antoine Vermette Rick Nash 
R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
Ethan Moreau Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Tom Sestito Kyle Wilson
Jared Boll


Jan Hejda Fedor Tyutin
Rostislav Klesla Marc Methot
Anton Stralman Kris Russell


Mathieu Garon
Steve Mason


Minnesota Wild

Andrew Brunette Mikko Koivu Chuck Kobasew
Pierre-Marc Bouchard Kyle Brodziak
Martin Havlat
Patrick O'Sullivan Matt Cullen Antti Miettinen
Eric Nystrom John Madden Cal Clutterbuck
Marco Scandella Brent Burns
Greg Zanon Marek Zidlicky
  Clayton Stoner
Nick Schultz


Jose Theodore
Nicklas Backstrom

 

Tidbit: Even though tonight's game is at 7:30, the Blue Jackets have announced that the doors will still open at 6 to get you out of the cold. Meanwhile, what everybody needs to do is take a deep breath, and prepare your bodies for Thunderdome. That is the new law.

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