Game 45 Preview: Burning the Midnight Oil

Edmonton Oilers at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 17, 2012 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: The Copper & Blue

Columbus has had a few days to get past the tough loss to a red-hot San Jose club from Saturday night, where they were just three minutes from gathering a point when a juicy rebound sealed their fate. Tonight's matchup on paper is a bit easier, what with the Oilers scuffling of late and also missing leading scorer Jordan Eberle (knee) and top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), as well as defenseman Ryan Whitney (ankle). However, as we all know, the Oilers possess some kind of kryptonite to whatever the Jackets try to do.

Call it speed; call it willingness to take risks. Whatever it is, the Oilers do it, and the Jackets never seem to have an answer for it. Perhaps missing some of their big guns will mitigate that a bit.

At any rate, since starting out 9-3-2, the Oilers have steadily plummeted down the standings board. They have 18 points in their last 30 games (8-20-2), and are just 3-11-1 in their last 15. All of that said, they still have a 9-point lead over Columbus. Put THAT in perspective. That said, they are coming off a win against LA Sunday night, so there's that.

Not much in terms of lineup changes for Columbus, other than Dane Byers obviously being bounced for his head-shot on Andrew Desjardins the other night. Coincidentally, newcomer Colton Gillies should draw in. Columbus has looked a bit better at home these past two games; Rick Nash is heating up, Tomas Kubalik looks comfortable on the second line, and Derick Brassard is playing some of the best hockey of his career of late. Will it be enough to slow down the Oilers?

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(12-27-5, 29 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Tomas Kubalik Antoine Vermette Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot John Moore
Aaron Johnson David Savard
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Edmonton Oilers
(17-23-4, 38 Points; 5th Division, 13th Conference)

Taylor Hall Sam Gagner Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth Shawn Horcoff Ryan Jones
Anton Lander Eric Belanger Magnus Paajarvi
Josh Green Ryan O`Marra Ben Eager
Ladislav Smid Corey Potter
Andy Sutton Jeff Petry
Theo Peckham Colten Teubert
Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

Season Series

12/02/11 - Columbus 3 at Edmonton 6 - RECAP
01/17/12 - Edmonton at Columbus
03/14/12 - Columbus at Edmonton
03/25/12 - Edmonton at Columbus

Head to Head

Edmonton Columbus
2.57 (t16) GPG 2.34 (27)
2.82 (t16) GAPG 3.25 (29)
21.3% (3) PP% 13.9% (28)
82.9% (13) PK% 76.7% (29)
Jordan Eberle, 17 G leader Rick Nash, 16
Jordan Eberle, 26 A leader Vinny Prospal, 21
Jordan Eberle, 43 Pts leader Rick Nash, 31
Theo Peckham, 72 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 105
1/15 vs. LA, W 2-1 (OT) Last Game 1/14 vs. San Jose, L 2-1
2-7-1 Last 10 3-6-1

Game Notes:

  • Need for Discipline - The Jackets were dreadful on Saturday night, taking penalty after penalty (5 times on the PK, 23 PIM). Edmonton's PP unit is solid, though it's missing two of it's best weapons. That said, they're still good, and the Jackets would be wise not to parade to the box yet again.
  • CBJ Debut - Not much fanfare, but tonight marks the CBJ debut of Colton Gillies. The former Wild winger is reunited with former Wild coach Todd Richards.
  • Keep It Up - The Jackets' defense was solid on Saturday night, with a flukey PP goal and a late rebound sinking them. They'll need to bring that effort again tonight. If they do, they should be able to generate more offense against the Oilers than they did against San Jose. They're going to have to, as Edmonton always finds a way to score goals against them.
  • Not Again - Oilers forward Ryan Jones has 12 goals on the season. Three of those goals came in the third period of the last matchup between these two teams. Seriously. He's only scored three in the 18 games since. He hasn't scored a goal in nine games (just 1 point). Please don't let him do that hat trick shit again.

Edmonton is a blueprint, in a sense. Yes, they're struggling right now, but they're also banged up. They have made their last two years' #1 draft picks pay off with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Jackets need not roll over (they have an eight-point cushion on 29th place), but they could learn a lot from what the Oilers have done to their roster over the past two or three years.

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