Game Preview 63: Chaos A.D.

DETROIT MI - FEBRUARY 4: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates away from the checking Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings in a game on February 4 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Michigan. The Blue Jackets defeated the Wings 3-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets

February 28, 2012 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Winging It In Motown
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I can't think of a better way to sum up how I feel than this, a favorite song from my high school years:

"Chaos A.D. / Army in seige / Total alarm / I'm sick of this / Inside the state / War is created / No man's land / What's this shit?!"
--"Refuse/Resist" by Sepultura

I sincerely don't know how to preview games right now. Yesterday's complete, colossal clusterf**k of a deadline day has fried my brain. As I told the other guys here at The Cannon this morning, "Even last week, I didn't want to believe this, but the whole thing is just a f**king mess." Oh, how I was wrong.

Thing is, I haven't completely figured out with whom I am most angry. I've always had Nash Blinders on, and knowing everything that we now know, my man-crush has been tainted a bit. I always wanted him to stay, but not like this. I feel like Howson is trying some Jedi trickery to convince people things aren't as bad as they appear to be, and I'm so so angry at him for wasting Rick Nash's prime to the point that #61 wanted out. I am angry with ownership because of their blind loyalty to Priest/Howson; if Nash did in fact come to ownership to say, "Look, it's me or it's them," that's certainly not real "captain-like" from The Captain; but JPM and Co are seriously choosing Priest and Howson?? WTF? [edit] I should note that I have been told by members of the CBJ staff that there is absolutely no truth to the last part of this equation. Per the team, they discussed the rumor that Rick had gone to ownership and requested a change in management, and Rick said it was ridiculous and completely not true.

Finally, where at one point I could see a long rebuilding path that at least seemed realistic (trade Nash, scorch the roster, start over with lots of young players/picks garnered from the deadline purge), now where are we? We got rid of four players, one of whom was gone anyway at the end of the year, and one of whom was spending more time than not in the press box. Yes, some cap space has been freed. But, our goaltending corps is still a giant pile of dung sitting on top of an even gianter pile of dung, and here's the kicker for me: I don't know how you develop young talent when your "mature" talent wearing the C wants out, and has no faith in the guys doing the rebuild. If Nash feels this way, is it safe to assume that *no one* else in the room does too?

Also, this team has not shown the ability to develop young talent for a decade. I guess if you keep getting the #1 pick, though, you have less work to do. Right, Edmonton? Oh.

The only answer to me seems to be to completely purge the system this summer. Nash? Traded. Howson? Shit-canned. Priest? Hopefully canned. Coaching staff? Overhauled. It's the only way forward through this mess, despite the "amicability" Howson would have you believe is there.

Cathartic? A little bit. But again, as I said to the boys this morning, "I just feel like I've been kicked in the stomach and forced to eat gruel. This team sucks so hard on so many levels." And naturally, one of the best freaking teams in the league is coming to town tonight to come over to our house, bring all of their friends, eat all of our food, kick our dog, sleep with our wife, and take a dump on our couch before heading out again. Can't wait!

Some actual writing about the game follows. Enjoy!

The Red Wings are doing their usual spring work of rounding into playoff form, though it must be pointed out that the other teams in the Central are ALL so good that it's a four-horse race at the top of the division. St. Louis is tied, and leads by virtue of the Howson Rule about shootouts; Nashville and Chicago are right behind Detroit at 5 and 6 in the conference.

Here's the weird thing, though: as all-world as the Wings have been at home (I think I heard something about a winning streak...?), they're pedestrian on the road for a team fighting for the President's Trophy. I don't know how much that matters tonight, but it's worth noting. They've also lost three in a row, including two at home. Gasp!

Nothing busts a slump for a top-echelon team (not named the Sharks, I guess) than playing the Blue Jackets.

One note from the guys at Winging It In Motown: "During the Wings' recent 23-game home winning streak, they amassed 56 points, or 13 more than what the Jackets have gotten all season." Ugh. FML.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(18-37-7, 43 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Cam Atkinson
Ryan Russell Darryl Boyce Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Ryan Johansen
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Jack Johnson James Wisniewski
John Moore Brett Lebda
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Detroit Red Wings
(41-19-3, 85 Points; 2nd Division, 4th Conference)

Johan Franzen Danny Cleary Todd Bertuzzi
Henrik Zetterberg Valtteri Filppula Jiri Hudler
Justin Abdelkader Darren Helm Andrew Miller
Jan Mursak Cory Emmerton Tomas Holmstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom Ian White
Niklas Kronwall Brad Stuart
Jakub Kindl Brendan Smith
Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald

Season Series

10/21/11 - Columbus 2 at Detroit 5 - RECAP
10/25/11 - Detroit 1 at Columbus 4 - RECAP
01/21/12 - Columbus 2 at Detroit 3 (SO) - RECAP
02/28/12 - Detroit at Columbus
03/26/12 - Columbus at Detroit
03/28/12 - Detroit at Columbus

Head to Head

Detroit Columbus
3.02 (5) GPG 2.27 (28)
2.33 (5) GAPG 3.26 (29)
17.5% (14) PP% 16.7% (18)
82.2% (15) PK% 75.5% (30)
Johan Franzen, 23 G leader Rick Nash, 21
Pavel Datsyuk, 43 A leader Vinny Prospal, 28
Pavel Datsyuk, 59 Pts leader Rick Nash, 43
Todd Bertuzzi, 54 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 179
15-16-1 Road/Home 11-17-3
2/25 vs. Colorado, L 4-3 Last Game 2/26 @ Pittsburgh, L 4-2
6-3-1 Last 10 4-5-1

I honestly can't bring myself to dive into the minutiae of this game. I'm so dead inside right now. Hopefully, the Jackets that remain are now calm enough to bring the funk. Which Rick Nash is going to show up? How pissed off is he? Will he play like a guy completely checked out, or like a guy now trying to drive up his summer trade value? Will it all matter?

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