Once again, the Jackets look to rebound after a rough loss – and to this point, they’ve been very successful. Can they do it again?
Both the Jackets and the Canadiens are in the midst of mini-slumps – the Blue Jackets lost against Colorado on Saturday, and several key players are in the middle of a scoring drought (Voracek, Nash, Vermette, etx), while the Habs dropped a bad game to the Panthers and have yet to really get Brian Gionta or Scott Gomez going.
Both teams are attempting a bit of a shakeup to spark results tonight – the Jackets moving Nikita Filatov up to the second line, and the return of Jan Hejda to the defense from injury, while the Habs are scratching Alexandre Picard, Own-Goal expert Ryan O’Byrne, and energy guy Tom Pyatt, replacing them with , Roman Hamrlik, and Dustin Boyd.
The Habs are top of the Northeast Division and 2nd in the Eastern Conference. They’re probably one of the most skilled teams that Jackets have seen so far this year, and have gone an impressive 4-1 on the road.
That said, they’re not invincible: they’ve been shut out by the truly crapulent New Jersey Devils, they’ve been snakebit on their power play of late (currently converting at a 7% rate….yes, that’s worse than ours. No, I didn’t think that was possible either.), and at the moment, they’re basically a one line team that has difficulty coming back in games when they give up the lead. (When trailing after 1 period, they’re 1-3 this year.)
The Habs also really haven’t played much against the West yet – their two matchups before tonight were wins against the Wild and the Coyotes, both of whom are struggling. This is their first game against a team in playoff position in the Western Conference, and the Habs have struggled to win in Nationwide Arena in the past – including their last meeting in Columbus, where Quebec native Derick Brassard settled things with a beautiful shootout goal.
Tonight, the Jackets will go with Mathieu Garon in net. The team is 2-0 behind Garon so far this year, against Minnesota and Philadelphia.
Keys To The Game:
- Stop The Top Line – The Habs top line of Kostitsyn, Plekanec, and Cammalleri lead Montreal in scoring. When they score, the Habs win. When they get held off the board, the Habs generally lose. We need to treat them the same way the Jackets handled the Flyers. Push them to the outside, take away their chances, and knock them around.
- PK – As mentioned, the Habs Power Play is struggling badly. Don’t let them draw opportunities, and when / if the team is shorthanded, the PK needs to clear the puck and break up passing plays to prevent the Habs skill from taking over.
- P.K. – Meanwhile, a big piece of Montreal’s scoring attack has been young defenseman P. K. Subban, who leads all of their defensemen with 6 assists. Preventing him from creating scoring chances will go a long way towards winning this game.
- Take And Hold – The Blue Jackets are 3-0 when leading a game after the first period, 2-1 when tied after the first period, and 1-3 when trailing after the first period. The Jackets need to either keep pace with the Habs early, or better yet, get out in front and drive them out of the game.
|Game Time: 7:00pm EDT
|TV: RDS/TSN (Center Ice)
|Radio: 97.1FM WFAN
|Canadiens vs Blue Jackets coverage
|Opponent’s Blog: Habs Eyes On the Prize
Blue Jackets Information:
| Derick Brassard
| Samuel Pahlsson
| Derek MacKenzie
| Rostislav Klesla
| Fedor Tyutin
| Tomas Plekanec
|P. K. Subban
| Hal Gill