ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Adam Cracknell #79 of the St. Louis Blues chases Kris Russell #10 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Bluejackets 5-4 in a shoot out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
I think it's safe to say that the five game road trip that the Jackets just completed can be chalked up as a failure. At such a crucial point in the season, playing against teams either in the playoff dogfight with them or below them in the standings (with the exception of Vancouver) the Jackets went 0-3-2. Steve Mason was inconsistent, and the forwards were ineffective.
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Opponent's Blog: St. Louis Game Time
Tonight the Jackets return home to play four of their next five in Nationwide Arena. This evening marks the second half of the home-and-home with the Blues, and the Jackets must win. That's right, MUST WIN. They are falling behind in the standings, but an Octoberish run to end the season and a little luck may still get them in the playoffs.
The Blues are evenly matched with the Jackets, with the exception of the high-end talent leading the team. The Blues don't possess a Rick Nash. It's time for Nash, who has struggled to put the puck in the net of late, to get back on track and lead this team down the stretch. It's no coincidence that the team wasn't winning during his most recent offensive dry spell. He may have some help however, as center Derick Brassard may return tonight.
Scott Arniel has a dilemma- does he show confidence in his number one netminder, regardless of his recent struggles, or does he start Mathieu Garon in net tonight? For my money I'd go with Mase. The return to the friendly confines could serve as a mental boost.
The Blues will likely go with the same lineup as last game, but number one goalie Jaroslav Halak is returning to the lineup and will start.
Keys To The Game:
- Shoot, Shoot, Shoot - Halak has been out of action for a while, so the Jackets must pepper him with shots. Keep him busy and tire him out.
- Return of the Brass - While he remains a game-time decision, if Derick Brassard can go tonight here's hoping he can seamlessly slide in beside Nash and the two can rekindle the magic they had before Brass went to the IR.
- Limit the Turnovers - The Jackets need to avoid handing the puck over to the Blues. St.Louis is an opportunistic team offensively, and the Jackets need to keep things tight and avoid odd-man rushes against.
It's time for the Jackets to prove they are a contender in the West. No more easy games, everybody has to be committed. Blue Jackets Information:
Blue Jackets Information: