Game 44 Preview: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

San Jose Sharks at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 14, 2012 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Fear The Fin

The Jackets are coming off of a nice win at home last night against the road-weary Coyotes. Sadly for Columbus, the Sharks were already in Columbus, and took in last night's game while resting up for tonight. The Sharks played on Thursday in Winnipeg, knocking off the Jets 2-0. San Jose is on game three of a four game roadie.

San Jose is hot right now, having only lost once in regulation in their last 14 games (9-1-4, 22 points), including their 2-1 win over Columbus last Thursday out in California. Columbus gave them a very solid effort, but just couldn't solve Thomas Greiss when they needed to.

Columbus has to be happy with the majority of their effort last night against Phoenix. They dominated most of the first 40 minutes, taking a 4-2 lead into the second intermission. And, while I thought the Yotes carried most of the play in the third period, Columbus managed to steel themselves and not completely implode for a change.

Beyond that, at times I really felt like they were a more cohesive offensive team. I remember several times saying things like, "Wow, that actually looked like they set that play up." I thought the passing was more crisp, and the offensive chances were better constructed. Whether that's Todd Richards' early stamp on the team, or just a mindset freed up by the change, I can't say.

Derick Brassard was great last night in all facets of the game. I also thought the entire line of Kubalik--Vermette--Johansen was very good together. Vermy looked to have a spring in his step we haven't seen much of this season.

That said, they're going to have to bring that collective effort for the full 60 minutes tonight to beat these Sharks. They're gonna need a bigger boat.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(12-26-5, 29 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Tomas Kubalik Antoine Vermette Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Dane Byers Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot John Moore
Aaron Johnson David Savard
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

San Jose Sharks
(24-11-5, 53 Points; 1st Division, 3rd Conference)

Patrick Marleau Joe Thornton Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe Logan Couture Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn Michal Handzus Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester Andrew Desjardins Andrew Murray
Dan Boyle Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray Brent Burns
Justin Braun Jason Demers
Thomas Greiss
Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

Season Series

01/05/12 - Columbus 1 at San Jose 2 - RECAP
01/14/12 - San Jose at Columbus
01/31/12 - Columbus at San Jose
02/21/12 - San Jose at Columbus

By The Numbers

Scoring
SJS - 2.83 G/G (11th)
CBJ - 2.37 G/G (27th)

Defense
SJS - 2.30 GA/G (5th)
CBJ - 3.28 GA/G (29th)

Power Play
SJS - 17.7% (17th)
CBJ - 14.0% (26th)

Penalty Kill
SJS - 76.9% (28th)
CBJ - 76.6% (29th)

Game Notes:

  • Please "Kill" Me - These two teams are two of the worst penalty killers in the league. We saw it hurt the Jackets in the last meeting, with Ryan Johansen taking a high-sticking double-minor early on that resulted in a Sharks' goal. Columbus is straight feast-or-famine on the PK, and the Sharks haven't been much better. Perhaps that might be what ails a sick PP unit here in The 'Bus.
  • Polished Brass - Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Scott Arniel's firing has been Derick Brassard. Obviously Jeff Carter getting hurt opened the door for his move to the top line, but I don't honestly believe Arniel would have given him the chance to stay up on the top line this long. Brassard appears to be a new man under Todd Richards. We may never know what 800-lb gorilla grudge there was between Brassard and his former coach, but it's clear he's playing with a lot more confidence in Arniel's absence. Perhaps a small corner is being turned for Brassard right in front of our eyes. He was everywhere on the ice last night, scored a goal (and almost had a second in the third period) and notched an assist. The top line was dangerous all night. Perhaps Brassard is the playmaker Nash has been lacking all season...?
  • Keep It Up - The Jackets showed some speed and spirit that we haven't seen in awhile last night. They're going to have to bring all of that and then some tonight.

Honestly, what I'm looking for the rest of the season is some progress. Just show me what I think I already know: you're not as bad as your record indicates. Just don't go messing up that #1 pick!

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