Game 7 Preview: A Sense of Dread In the Air

Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings

October 21, 2011 - 7:30pm EDT
Joe Louis Arena - Detroit, Michigan
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Winging It in Motown
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I sat here staring at a blank white space, thinking of how to truly preview this game. Mired in an 0-5-1 start with some questions about effort and hunger coming from within the room, the Jackets quite literally couldn't have drawn a worse opponent: the Red Wings have a long-standing history of stomping on the Jackets. Last year, a back-to-back in November sent Columbus spiraling, and they really never recovered.

Columbus heads north tonight to face an undefeated Red Wings squad, and on top of that they're well-rested, having not played since Saturday (seriously? Did they really need a week off??) against Minnesota. Detroit is scoring at their usual clip, but this year's difference early on is their defense, which is suffocating teams.

Columbus is searching for answers, and is citing their solid effort from Tuesday night as a building block. But, this game only becomes interesting if the Jackets are able to figure out how to put the puck into the goal more than twice for a change. That's going to be a tall order against a Wings team that has not been allowing goals at all so far.

The lead-up to this game feels like a drive to a funeral. It doesn't help that Joe Louis Arena looks like a giant sarcophagus from the outside.

Projected Lineups
(Note: Lines are based on combinations used in practice yesterday and are subject to change)

Columbus Blue Jackets
(0-5-1, 1 Point; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal Antoine Vermette Alexandre Giroux
Maksim Mayorov Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Derek MacKenzie Ryan Johansen Cody Bass

Fedor Tyutin Radek Martinek
Marc Methot Grant Clitsome
Kris Russell Aaron Johnson

Steve Mason
Allen York

Detroit Red Wings
(4-0-0, 8 Points; 2nd Division, 5th Conference)

Henrik Zetterberg Pavel Datsyuk Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler Valtteri Filppula Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader Darren Helm Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Holmstrom Cory Emmerton Andrew Miller

Nicklas Lidstrom Ian White
Niklas Kronwall Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

By The Numbers

Scoring
CBJ - 2.00 G/G (t25th)
DET - 3.25 G/G (5th)

Defense
CBJ - 3.17 GA/G (t26th)
DET - 1.25 GA/G (1st)

Power Play
CBJ - 6.7% (27th)
DET - 5.3% (29th)

Penalty Kill
CBJ - 76.2% (25th)
DET - 81.8% (t20th)

Game Notes:

  • The Jackets solved their "get more shots!" issue on Tuesday night. Next step is to make those shots "good" shots, and to get traffic in front to put home rebounds. There were plenty of rebounds there, but generally no one to cash them in. There was a concerted effort in practice Wednesday and Thursday to make those shots count. We'll see how that plays out tonight.
  • Defensive coverage is still a plague on this team. When Jamie Benn can basically "dunk on your whole [bleep]ing squad," to borrow a basketball phrase, something is horribly wrong with your defense. Savard getting scratched tonight in favor of Methot... deck chairs on the Titanic? Stay tuned.
  • Color me shocked--SHOCKED, I tell you--that when I looked up the stats I found that Detroit's Special Teams are almost as bad as the Jackets'. Columbus is going into a game as the better Power Play team. Marinate in that for a moment.
  • The Jackets didn't allow a Power Play goal for a change the other night. Let's continue that trend, shall we?
  • Steve Mason certainly doesn't bear ALL of the responsibility for the team's record, but he needs to step up. That's what good players do when there's adversity, and the Jackets' goalie situation at present certainly qualifies. Mase can't allow super-softies like he did to Steve Ott on Tuesday night, especially against Detroit and ESPECIALLY when his offense just isn't scoring. He needs to step up and play the hero once in awhile.
  • Speaking of scoring, Detroit has allowed five goals in four games. Gack.
  • Enjoy the game folks.
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