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Game 75 Preview: Call Me Ishmael

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Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

Perhaps, as Melville suggests, what the Jackets really need is a trip out on the high seas to revive their spirits, though their playoff chances are essentially a fable, kept alive only by the caprice of mathematical probability. The salt air, hard work, and the magnificent fury of wave and wind to rouse their hearts and return the fight to their weary arms.

Sadly, there's no time for a pleasure cruise - like Ishmael, Queequeg, and the rest of the Pequod's crew, the Jackets must sally forth to challenge the whale.

Essentials:
Game Time: 5:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: WBNS FM (97.1)
Canucks vs Blue Jackets coverage

Opponent's Blog: Nucks Misconduct

For the Canucks, it's fair to say that this game isn't even viewed as a speedbump. Dominant in every meaningful way this season, they sit atop the NHL in almost every category, while Columbus sits, if not at the foot of the mountain, then barely past the first escarpment. Even at the head to head level, the Canucks have won all three matchups against the Jackets, with one blowout, one OT victory, and the most recent shootout win - even if the Jackets kept things close (and nearly triumphed) in two of three matches, they still took control of each one. Why should they be worried?

The Canucks will be starting backup Cory Schneider today, giving Roberto Luongo the afternoon off, while the Jackets are expected to go back to Steve Mason, though the forward lines have been given a generous remixing, in the hopes of sparking some offense after two shutouts in their last four games. Anton Stralman could also return as a game time decision - if so, I would expect him to take the place of Craig Rivet.

It will be interesting to see if the team comes out with a different attitude after their closed door meeting following the game in Phoenix, or if their debates will be confined to figuring out their tee times.

Keys To The Game:

  • All Over Comfortable - As mentioned above, the Canucks are almost certainly walking in with a warm, fuzzy feeling for this game. Overconfidence is likely, perhaps even unavoidable. Overconfidence will breed mistakes, and the Jackets need to exploit that.
  • Monomaniac Incarnation - For the Jackets, there needs to be a will to score, and score, and score. Forget the frustrations, forget the past misgivings. Go out, score goals, and get the offense kicking by any means necessary. Ignore every other concern. 
  • All The General Rage & Hate - The Jackets' PK has been solid, but has frankly been overworked of late. Too many penalties has cut down the chances to generate offense, and against a team like the Canucks, it could be all too easy to be overwhelmed if they allow the Canucks' top ranked power play free reign.
  • An All Too Final Moment - The Canucks are one of the best teams at delivering a crushing blow in the third period, where they out score opponents 90 to 55. If the Jackets can build a lead today, they CANNOT let it slip away again, or they may be unable to find the traction to get it back.

Perhaps, like Ahab and the Pequod, the Jackets are doomed to failure this season - at worst, breaking themselves on the desire to make the playoffs just as Ahab drowned himself in his attempt to slay Moby Dick. But the Jackets are still alive, and much like Ishmael, still have the chance to cling to their life buoy for a few more games, to take the lessons from this sad tale into the offseason, and perhaps to have the wisdom to succeed in the coming years.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page  Schedule
Roster Stats

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Matt Calvert
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Jakub Voracek
Derek Dorsett Samuel Pahlsson Scottie Upshall
Maksim Mayorov Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Jan Hejda Sami Lepisto
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Craig Rivet Kris Russell
Steve Mason

Mathieu Garon

 

Vancouver Canucks

Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins Ryan Kesler Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres Maxim Lapierre Jannik Hansen
Jeff Tambellini Alexandre Bolduc Victor Oreskovic
Dan Hamhuis Kevin Bieksa
Sami Salo Christian Ehrhoff
Keith Ballard Aaron Rome

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo

 

Tidbit: Cory Schneider has 1 year left on his deal, and many suspect that he could be dealt in the offseason, as he hopes to step out of Luongo's shadow. He has a lot of experience playing for Scott Arniel. Maybe, just maybe, he might be the 1/1A backup the Jackets need to truly compete with Mason? Stranger things have happened. Though everyone thought the Canucks would be dealing Kevin Bieksa this offseason, too, and look how that worked out?