Riding a four goal win streak, the Jackets head to Long Island, where the New York Islanders are in the midst of a protracted free fall, winless in their last 13 games.
Though the Islanders fired head coach Scott Gordon earlier in the month, and replaced him with former Bridgeport coach Jack Capuano, it hasn't been enough to make up for the loss of Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit, Jack Hillen, and former Jacket Milan Jurcina to injury - something that was compounded with the loss of Mike Mottau to an eye injury during a loss to Atlanta over the weekend.
Yet, somehow, I'm even more nervous about this game than I was for the matchup with the Preds on Monday. Why?
The only thing more dangerous than a wounded animal is a wounded animal that has been chased into their lair.
|Game Time: 7:00pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1FM WFAN
|Blue Jackets vs Islanders coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: Light House Hockey
So much has been made of the team unveiling the third jersey tonight that it would be easy - much too easy - to dismiss the actual game, but there are things to keep in mind. The Islanders actually have a decent power play at home, converting at 18%, and they're one of the best teams at drawing the man advantage, typically receiving 5 power plays a game.
Even more of a concern for the Jackets, specifically, is the fact that despite their current reputation, the Islanders have matched up surprisingly well against the Jackets in recent years, (4-5-1), including a pair of shootout wins. If the Jackets let the Islanders hang around, they'll make a game of it.
And last but not least, there's our old friend Dwayne Roloson. The expansion draft pick that Ex-GMDM decided would never make it in the NHL. Ten years later he's still chugging along, while the goaltenders that Dougie Mac placed his bets on? Not so much.
Rolo-cop is 10-9-2 against the Jackets in his career, with a 2.13 GAA and a .929 save percentage. I think it's fair to say he gets up for games against the club that snubbed him. Then there's Rick DiPietro, the glass goalie - and for all the jokes we can make about his durability and his monstrous contract, he's actually even -better- vs Columbus, with a 1.64 GAA and a .939 save. Capuano is much like Scott Arniel - he doesn't announce his starter before the game - and I'm seeing a pretty even split in the previews on who is expected to go, so just cross your fingers.
The Jackets are expected to start Garon this evening, who is 2-0-1 against the Isles, with a 1.48 GAA and .950 save. Should that change, Mase is 1-0-1 with a 0.96 GAA and .960 save. The Jackets are saying all the right things about not taking anything for granted, but the team has to take this game seriously, or they could find themselves in serious trouble.
Keys To The Game:
- Keep It Simple - with Marc Methot missing this game, the defense needs to keep things simple, and stick to the basic but effective plays that have worked so well.
- Keep Pushing - The Islanders are 0-9-1 when trailing after 1 period, and 0-10-2 when scored on first. The Jackets need to keep hammering the net and pushing the Islanders back offensively, and to keep that pressure through the entire game.
- Mind The Top - Matt Moulson, John Tavares, and P.A. Parenteau were the guys sparking the Isles' offense in their early hot start, and they're still a very dangerous line. The team needs to keep them bottled up as much as possible.
- The Beast From The East - Fan favorite and legendary AHL captain Zenon Konopka will be on the ice for the Isles tonight, and as much as we must fear and respect his fisticuffs, he's turned into a great faceoff guy with a respectable checking line. I wouldn't be shocked if he tried to drop the gloves tonight, but winning the puck battles around him needs to be an even higher priority.
- Pressure The Rookie - Tonight is the NHL debut for the Islanders' Travis Hamonic. The Isles' fans are quite excited about the 2008 draft pick. The Jackets need to respectfully put a few bumps into his development tonight.
Blue Jackets Information:
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Nikita Filatov|
|Derek Dorsett||Samuel Pahlsson||Chris Clark|
|Andrew Murray||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Rostislav Klesla||Anton Stralman|
|Jan Hejda||Kris Russell|
|Mike Commodore||Fedor Tyutin|
The New York Islanders
|Matt Moulson||John Tavares||P.A. Parenteau|
|Jesse Joensuu||Josh Bailey||Blake Comeau|
|Michael Grabner||Frans Nielsen||Trent Hunter|
|Matt Martin||Zenon Konopka||Rob Schremp|
|Mark Eaton||James Wisniewski|
|Travis Hamonic||Radek Martinek|
|Dylan Reese||Bruno Gervais|
Tidbit: Aside from really looking forward to the new third jersey debut tonight at Tuttle Mall, it's Thanksgiving eve for those of us in the US! Just remember - nobody comes down the chimney with a sack of turkeys tonight.