Game 30 Preview: Jackets face Panthers in Columbus
The Jackets have had some time-three full days in fact-to regoup and, as I've said here many times before, right the ship. The team is coming off of two bad losses to the Leafs and Avalanche, two teams the Jackets need to beat. Tonight the Panthers come to town, and this being an out-of-conference matchup it is important to pick up these points. The Jackets have historically played well against the East, and that needs to continue this evening.
Dorsett makes his return to the lineup tonight-the team has missed his energy and forechecking badly. He brings a spark to the team that was obviously missing while he was out with a concussion. This is Murray's second game of the season, and I look for him to have a strong game. The lines have been adjusted quite significantly outside of the top line, with Umby sliding back to center with Jake and Chimmer. Chimmer has been playing very well lately, and I'm hopeful he can build on that given the chance to play with some skilled linemates.
Mase returns to the net, he simply must focus on the game and avoid letting in bad goals. The defense as a whole needs to continue to impove, and if the team continues to avoid playing the style the coaching staff is preaching, the ugly losses will continue to mount. If a team tries to play a skill game, without having the necessary skill to back it up, that's when you can kiss the season good-bye.
The Panthers have some skilled forwards and a decent defense, not to mention Vokoun is a fantastic goaltender. This will be a tough matchup, but one the Jackets can defeat. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must-win. In fact, you can say that about all of the games remaining this month. If they can go on a decent winning streak, they are right back in it.
Fearless Prediction: Victory?
Game Time: 7:00pm ET
Opponent's Blog: Litter Box Cats
Game Page: Panthers vs Blue Jackets Coverage
TV: FSN Ohio
Radio: WBNS-AM (1460); WWCD-FM (101.1)
More after the jump...
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Rule of thumb: He who forechecks, wins. The Blue Jackets have struggled against speedy forechecks this season, and they haven't established much of one lately, either. All that's left for the Panthers from three blockbuster trades (Roberto Luongo, Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester) are defensemen Keith Ballard, Jordan Leopold and Bryan Allen.
Columbus Blue Jackets / Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule
Columbus Blue Jackets Roster / Columbus Blue Jackets Stats
Here are the lineups for tonight's tilt:
Columbus Blue Jackets
|Kristian Huselius || Antoine Vermette ||Rick Nash|
| Jason Chimera || R.J. Umberger ||Jakub Voracek|
|Andrew Murray||Samuel Pahlsson ||Jared Boll|
|Raffi Torres || Derick Brassard || Derek Dorsett |
|Fedor Tyutin||Marc Methot |
|Mike Commodore ||Jan Hejda |
|Kris Russell ||Anton Stralman|
|EXTRA: Mike Blunden, Mathieu Roy, Derek MacKenzie|
|INJURED: Fredrik Modin, Rostislav Klesla|
|Steven Reinprecht || Stephen Weiss ||Nathan Horton |
|Rostislav Olesz || Dominc Moore || Michael Frolik |
|Shawn Matthias || Jeff Taffe ||Radek Dvorak |
|Victor Oreskovich ||Kamil Kreps || Mike Duco |
| Bryan McCabe || Keith Ballard |
|Jordan Leopold || Dennis Seidenberg |
| Bryan Allen ||Dmitry Kulikov |
| Tomas Vokoun|
| Scott Clemmensen|