Following a 3-2 win at the Air Canada Centre, the Jackets showered, changed, packed, and got right back on the bus for a flight home, where the Ottawa Senators have been waiting for them since their 4-0 shutout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
With one last chance for both teams to collect points in 2010, each squad is trying to push back into the playoff picture, but the Jackets have an easier climb - 2 points tonight could potentially move them into a tie for the 8th seed with a game in hand on Chicago - while Ottawa sits more than six points back of division rival Montreal for the final seed in the East.
Despite the lack of Pascal LeClaire in net for the Senators, they should not be taken lightly if the Jackets want to continue their strong record of ringing in the new year with some cannon fire.
|Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1 WFAN
|Senators vs Blue Jackets coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: Silver Seven
Keys To The Game:
- Business Continued From Session To Session - The Jackets are currently 5-3 on the second night of back to back games. Tonight has the added difficulty of the extra travel, but they need to push that aside and drive themselves hard. Ottawa is a team that has struggled on the road (7-8-2 this year), and the Jackets are starting to put together a winning home record. Let's keep it rolling.
- Privilege Of The Floor - The sens are 3-13-3 when their opponent scores first, and 2-18-4 when they are tied or trailing at the end of the second period. By contrast, the Jackets are 17-3-0 when tied or leading heading into the third. On special teams, the Sens power play is rolling at 21%, but the Jackets have improved to an 85% PK, tied for 9th in the NHL on home ice, while the Sens penalty kill is currently tied for 21st. If the Jackets can get the man advantage, they need to make it count, and keep their PK sharp in return.
- Questions For Order - It seems likely that Ottawa will give Brian Elliot the start tonight, unless they want to put Mike Brodeur out for his first NHL start of the season. For the Jackets, it's a harder question - do you take Steve Mason, who put in a good performance last night, or do you give it to Garon to avoid fatigue being a factor? Likewise, the Jackets have to determine if it's time for Jakub Voracek to return to the lineup, and if so, who will sit.
- Commencement Of Daily Sessions - Looking at the Sens this year, surviving the first period will be key - Ottawa typically comes out hard, often outshooting their opponents by 2-1 in the first period, but their shots trail off dramatically in the second and third frames, while allowing the opposition to return the favor. The Jackets are more of a balanced attack, and that could be a key difference tonight.
Note: Neither team has announced a roster for tonight, though Ottawa is apparently planning to shake up their forwards and D-pairs a bit. I'm basing tonight's roster for the Jackets off last night's sheet in Toronto.
Blue Jackets Information:
|Kristian Huselius||Antoine Vermette||Rick Nash|
|R.J. Umberger||Derick Brassard||Chris Clark|
|Ethan Moreau||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Kyle Wilson||Andrew Murray||Jared Boll|
|Jan Hejda||Fedor Tyutin|
|Rostislav Klesla||Marc Methot|
|Anton Stralman||Kris Russell|
|Mike Fisher||Daniel Alfredsson||Nick Foligno|
|Chris Kelly||Alexei Kovalev||Milan Michalek|
|Peter Regin||Ryan Shannon||Jarkko Ruutu|
|Jesse Winchester||Zack Smith||Chris Neil|
|Chris Phillips||Erik Karlsson|
|Chris Campoli||Sergei Gonchar|
|Brian Lee||Matt Carkner|
Tidbit: If you're going to drink tonight, please drink responsibly. If you're not going to drink responsibly, try this and let me know how it works out? It seems fun, but I've grown attached to my liver...