After an 8-1 victory against the Central Division leading St. Louis Blues, one of the storylines that caught the attention of the hockey world was a pre-game "incident" between assistant captain R. J. Umberger and the Blues over their attempts to encroach on the team's warmup space. According to witnesses, as the conflict was being broken up, the OSU product was defiant as he shouted "THIS IS OUR BUILDING!"
The Jackets matched deed to word that night. Now, with a lineup that is likely to miss several major players, it's time to step up and do it again.
As reported yesterday, Rick Nash, Nikita Filatov, and Derek MacKenzie are all questionable for tonight, as sitting them for this game offers a chance for them to get some extra rest and recovery before the team flies out to Los Angeles. (D-Mac, however, was listed on the game day roster this morning, so I'm projecting him as in the lineup until we hear otherwise.) On the other hand, the Avalanche are facing equal struggles, missing Ryan Wilson, Peter Mueller, Adam Foote, Kyle Quincey, Kyle Cumiskey, Craig Anderson, T.J. Galliardi, David Van Der Gulik, and David Koci. They're banged up to the point that the Avs still haven't announced if they'll call up a player from Lake Erie to fill out their fourth line, or if they'll go with 11 forwards and 7 D.
The Avs will also have the services of Ryan "Own-Goal" O'Byrne tonight, who they traded for from Montreal yesterday. O'Byrne saw action for the Habs in their match at Nationwide 2 weeks ago, and was -1 with 2 PIMs.
On paper, the Jackets should be able to out-work the Lake Erie Avalanche, but we all thought the Avs looked weak when the Jackets went in there a couple weeks ago, and look how that turned out? If the Jackets take the night off, it will get ugly. They need to come out swinging, with the same commitment to defense and hard play that took them to such great heights Wednesday.
The Avs are 7-6-1 on the season, including a loss in Calgary on Tuesday, but are still 4-2-1 on the road coming into today. Keep an eye out on RW Chris Stewart, currently the club's scoring leader, who has been on fire with 10 goals and 7 assists in 14 games so far. Likewise, C Paul Stasny ain't bad either, with his 5G and 9A putting him on a point per game pace so far in the young season. Interestingly, the Avs also will be flying to Detroit after tonight's game for a back to back, so you have to wonder if they may try to play it a bit conservatively as a result.
Keys To The Game:
- Commit To The Cannon - While the Jackets' offensive explosion was great, a big reason it happened was a hard working defensive effort from the top line on down. Backchecking forwards, forcing turnovers, and heavy pursuit of the puck denied the Blues time and space all night. The Avs can be beaten the exact same way.
- Keep Your Foot Down - The Avs are 3-4 when their opponent scores first, and 2-5 when trailing after 2 periods. The Jackets need to get that first goal again, and not let the Avs get back into this game. The Avs are also 2-3 when being outshot by opponents, and 5-3-1 when outshooting the competition. Again, the game plan should be much like Wednesday night, with good traffic around Budaj and working rebounds with aplomb.
- PK Power - The Jackets PK is 9th in the NHL at home, and they need to continue that trend against a Colorado power play that comes in converting at 20%. Even better, Colorado's special teams have given up 4 shorthanded goals this year. If the PK unit sees an opportunity, they need to jump on it with both hands.
- Movember Momentum - In addition to the month of November being dedicated to the fine art of the 'stache to raise awareness of prostate cancer and men's health, it's been quite kind to the Jackets, who are 3-1 since 11/1. The Avs, on the other hand, are 1-2.
|Game Time: 7:00pm EDT
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 102.5 FM WCVZ-FM
|Avalanche vs Blue Jackets coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: Mile High Hockey
Blue Jackets Information:
|Kyle Wilson|| Derick Brassard
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Derek Dorsett|
|Andrew Murray||Samuel Pahlsson||Chris Clark|
|Mike Blunden||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Jan Hejda||Anton Stralman|
|Rostislav Klesla||Marc Methot|
|Fedor Tyutin||Kris Russell|
|Kevin Porter||Paul Stasny||Chris Stewart|
|Milan Hejduk||Matt Duchene||Brandon Yip|
|David Jones||Ryan O'Reilly||Daniel Winnik|
|Cody McLeod||Phillipe Dupuis||Greg Mauldin|
|Jonas Holos||John-Michael Liles|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||Scott Hannan|
|Ryan O'Byrne|| David Liffiton
Another "bottom of the fold" tidbit to reward you, gentle and dilligent reader: With his offensive explosion on Wednesday, Jake Voracek now stands at 97 career points. It seems such a short time ago that he was stepping on stage with Scott Howson on the first night of the 2007 entry draft, but he's turned into quite a player.