One of the benefits of the compact season is that we don't have to wait long to see the team take the ice again. Get ready for an overdose of Blue Jackets hockey! (But, for those of us that won't want to hear about Ray Lewis and the Harbaugh Brothers for the next two weeks, the eight--EIGHT!!--games in the next 13 days will give us plenty of distraction.)
The Jackets come home riding high after their opening night win in Nashville, and find another old nemesis waiting for them: the Detroit Red Wings. Notably absent, however, are two mainstays: Niklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom. I know that I be missing that giant Swede wearing #96 camped out in our crease. For Detroit, however, there are real questions about what losing Lidstrom does to their defense and to their overall dressing room culture. Lidstrom was the bridge to those great Wings teams of the 90s, of the culture first put together when Steve Yzerman took the C early in his career and later handed it to Lidstrom.
So, the question is: how does the loss of that bridge affect the overall dressing room? We should get a good answer in part tonight, as the Wings are coming off of a humbling defeat at the hands of the Blues on Saturday. The Wings got shellacked 6-0, and were out-shot 36-14. Yikes! Doesn't sound like your typical Red Wings' performance, does it?
The other huge elephant in the room from that game was Special Teams: Detroit gave up four (1-2-3-4!) Power Play goals to the Blues (who were 4-6 on the PP), and also surrendered a shortie as well. Jimmy Howard got pulled, and the Wings' defense is left looking for answers. Jonas Gustavsson is hurt now, so Howard will go the whole way tonight no matter what happens.
The Jackets didn't have much time on Special Teams, but managed a PPG in two tries in Nashville, while also surrendering one to the Preds as well. If Detroit is undisciplined and the Jackets can get chances, they need to cash in. This Jackets team isn't talented enough at even strength to overwhelm teams. If the Wings are going to give you that many extra chances, you have to take them.
Defensively, the Jackets were sloppy at times on Saturday, and some of that can be attributed to new faces and a lack of time to perfect the new system. But, the Wings are still a skilled team up front, and so the Jackets can't be as loose defensively as they were on Saturday. Say what you will, however: Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two questionable goals in the first period on Saturday, but then was more than solid the rest of the way. When was the last time you could say that about a Jackets' goaltender?
Up front, Columbus will need to look for more continuity and more contributions from top to bottom. Both Nick Foligno and Artem Anisimov announced their presence strongly in their first games with Columbus. If that effort and effectiveness can spread throughout the lineup, it will only help.
I'm going to assume there won't be any sweeping lineup changes tonight. Why fix what wasn't broken (at least in the standings after one game)?
Columbus Blue Jackets
(1-0-0, 2 Points; 3rd division, 6th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Derick Brassard||Cam Atkinson|
|Brandon Dubinsky||Artem Anisimov||Derek Dorsett|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||Vinny Prospal|
|Matt Calvert||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Nikita Nikitin|
|Jack Johnson||James Wisniewski|
|John Moore||Adrian Aucoin|
Detroit Red Wings
(0-1-0, 0 Points; 5th Division, 14th Conference)
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Damien Brunner|
|Mikael Samuelsson||Valtteri Filppula||Johan Franzen|
|Dan Cleary||Justin Abdelkader||Drew Miller|
|Patrick Eaves||Cory Emmerton||Jordin Tootoo|
|Niklas Kronwall||Jonathan Ericsson|
|Kyle Quincey||Brendan Smith|
|Ian White||Carlo Colaiacovo|
01/21/13 - Detroit at Columbus
02/02/13 - Detroit at Columbus
02/21/13 - Columbus at Detroit
03/09/13 - Detroit at Columbus
03/10/13 - Columbus at Detroit
Head to Head
Detroit Columbus 0.00 (30) GPG 2.00 (t15) 6.00 (t29) GAPG 2.00 (t9) 0.0% (t26) PP% 50.0% (t4) 20.0% (29) PK% 0.0% (30) n/a G leader Nick Foligno / Artem Anisimov, 1 n/a A leader Fedor Tyutin, 2 n/a Pts leader Fedor Tyutin, 2 Jordin Tootoo / Johan Franzen, 10 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 7 0-1-0 Road/Home 0-0-0 at St. Louis, L 6-0 Last Game at Nashville, W 3-2 (SO) 0-1-0 Last 10 1-0-0
- The Swedes Effect? - Much like with Ryan Suter in Nashville, Detroit is moving forward without Nicklas Lidstrom on defense and, to a lesser extent, without Tomas Holmstrom. The latter was a mainstay on the Power Play, and there weren't too many guys better at getting in front of the net and disrupting things. For the former, Lidstrom was not only the best defenseman on the team, but was the unquestioned leader in the locker room, and the "keeper of the culture". How this team bounces back from a horrible opening night without that leadership--not to mention the on-ice play--will be a huge question mark going forward.
- The New Guys! - The Jackets got contributions from their new guys on Saturday, with Artem Anisimov showing his speed, size, and skill up and down the ice. He scored a goal, added one in the shoot-out, and was a monster in the face-off circle. Nick Foligno added a goal and another near-miss. Brandon Dubinsky earned his coach's praise for being reliable. All in all, not a bad debut for the new faces. It will be interesting to see if that can continue tonight as they get their first taste of home ice in Columbus.
- Goaltending - Sergei Bobrovsky got off to a rocky start, but was nails in the final two periods and in the shootout. Jimmy Howard could not say the same, getting pulled after allowing five goals (including three on the PP and one short-handed). Obviously, the defense (and offense) was lacking for the Wings. Can Howard bounce back and calm the back end down for Detroit, or can Columbus capitalize and make things just as tough on Howard?
Fill the barn tonight, folks. We all know how the Wings fans descend like locusts, so let's send them home sour.