Game 52 Preview: Caution, Ice May Be Slippery

After turning in a strong performance in the first night of a back to back, particularly a shutout performance, you wonder how the team will come back the next night. 

For the Jackets, they have some favors from the ability to add fresh bodies into the lineup, and the fact that they'll be playing on their home ice, in front of a strong crowd (a search of Ticketmaster.com finds several upper bowl sections sold out, and many down to single seats available), and their opponents, the Edmonton Oilers, coming off a loss last night in St. Louis.

Both teams will have dealt with the rigors of back to back travel, but if the Jackets want to get back into the hunt, this is another game where they must rise to the occasion, rather than falling to the level of the opponent.

Essentials:

Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 WFAN-FM
Oilers vs Blue Jackets coverage
Opponent's Blog: The Copper & Blue 

The struggles of both the Jackets and the Oilers have played out on the public stage, particularly since tonight's matchup will be featured on CBC as part of Hockey Day In Canada festivities. It's also interesting how the two teams have chosen to handle some of the youth they are hoping to see lift their collective fortunes.

The Jackets have provided Matt Calvert with more and more responsibility, including his start on the second line. Grant Clitsome munched minutes from the moment he was called up. Head Coach Scott Arniel has told the media that John Moore, when he makes his debut tonight, will be given continual shifts, and given the chance to play and prove himself.

By contrast, the Oilers have spent time trying to "shelter" most of their young core, particularly Taylor Hall. The idea of protecting the forwards may be best for their confidence, but one wonders about how it will affect their ability to actually match top NHL players, particularly for players like Jordan Eberle, who have suffered when asked to take more defensive responsibilities, such as the Penalty Kill.

Do you throw the kids into the fire, or let them develop in the AHL until ready to face stronger challenges? It's an argument that many NHL teams have gone through, but it's not often you see both sides on display like this.

Keys To The Game:

  • Ride The Wave - While it's uncertain if Kristian Huselius will return to the lineup after being scratched, the Jackets need to take last night's performance and continue to play that sharp, aggressive style. 
  • Match Speed - In their last meeting in Edmonton, the Jackets got burned, badly, by the speed of the Oilers young forwards, particular Jordan Eberle. The Jackets will get some assistance with the additions of Moore and Clitsome, giving the D a boost to help match them, but they must NOT allow this game to turn into a track meet.
  • Power Play - Though the Jackets did not cash in on the power play last night, the addition of Matt Calvert provided some good energy. The Oilers are a team who have struggled even more than the Jackets on special teams, particularly Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky. Let's not give them any relief tonight.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page  Schedule
Roster Stats

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Matt Calvert
Derek Dorsett Samuel Pahlsson Chris Clark
Andrew Murray Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Jan Hejda John Moore
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

 

Edmonton Oilers

Taylor Hall Andrew Cogliano Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi Sam Gagner Linus Omark
Ryan Jones Shawn Horcoff Ales Hemsky
Steve MacIntyre Colin Fraser

Liam Reddox

Tom Gilbert Theo Peckham

Ladislav Smid

Jeff Petry
Jim Vandermeer Kurtis Foster
Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

 

Tidbit: Today is the one year anniversary of Brendan Burke's tragic death. Brendan's friends and teammates at Miami of Ohio will be wearing jerseys with a memorial patch in their game tonight against the University of Michigan tonight.

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