Game 47 Preview: A Trip To The Vet

After a shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the Blue Jackets flew into Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers tonight in the Bank Atlantic Center.

You may remember the Panthers from trade rumors this offseason about Stephen Weiss, the constant discussions about when or if they will deal all star goaltender Thomas Vokoun, and closing off major sections of their upper bowl under "Party City" sponsored tarps.

As for Sunrise itself, this thriving metropolis is home of retirees, Cuba libre, and is the only city in the US to be "lost" by Google Maps three different times.

It's a beautiful place if you're looking to go somewhere warm to retire, but the Jackets need to stay off the beaches and keep their minds on tonight's game.


Game Time: 7:30 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: WWCD-FM (102.5)
Blue Jackets vs Panthers coverage
Opponent's Blog: Litter Box Cats

Oddly enough, the Jackets actually have a winning record (3-2-0) against the Panthers in Sunrise, and they're 5-4-0 overall vs. this Eastern opponent. (Please, dear god, can someone please realign Columbus into the East?)

With this falling as the second game in as many days, including travel, the biggest issue is going to be energy level and focus. If the Jackets can play with the same level of hustle as they showed this past weekend and last night, it will go a long way. Florida is also feeling the loss of captain Bryan McCabe, out with a broken jaw. With Steve Mason unable to go last night, I am assuming Garon will have the start this evening, unless the team throws another curveball today...

Keys To The Game:

  • Decline The Penalty? - The Panthers are the rarest of all things - a team worse than the Jackets with the man advantage. The worst in the NHL, in fact. #30, at 12.3 percent. Though they've recently had some success, so they Jackets should keep the PK sharp.
  • Limited Opportunities - Perhaps because they know special teams is a problem for them, the Panthers have become one of the top penalty killing teams (85.5%), and they're the best in the NHL at staying out of the box, averaging less than 8 penalty minutes per game. With a solid netminder like Vokoun to backstop them, the Panthers don't give up scoring chances easily.
  • Secondary Scoring - If you look at point streaks for the Jackets, it is full of the players you'd expect: Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette, Jakub Voracek. If you look at the Panthers, their biggest point streakers are not Stephen Weiss or David Booth - they're Mike Santorelli, Corey Stillman, and Dennis Wideman. The Panthers get scoring from their entire lineup. Well over 3/4 of their roster has double digit points this season. The Jackets could use the same tonight, and they cannot dismiss anyone as a threat.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page Schedule
Roster Stats

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Kristian Huselius
Derek Dorsett Samuel Pahlsson Chris Clark
Matt Calvert Kyle Wilson Jared Boll

Jan Hejda Fedor Tyutin
Rostislav Klesla Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Mathieu Garon
Steve Mason

Florida Panthers

David Booth Stephen Weiss Michael Frolik
Steve Bernier Mike Santorelli Evgeny Dadonov
Cory Stillman Marty Reasoner Radek Dvorak
Darcy Hordichuk Shawn Matthias

Rostislav Olesz

Jason Garrison Mike Weaver

Bryan Allen

Dennis Wideman
Keaton Ellerby Dmitry Kulikov
Tomas Vokoun
Scott Clemmensen

Tidbit: I try not to mix my "blogger hat" with my "Booster club" hat too often, but if you're in the mood to get out tonight, the Jacket Backers are having a club meeting followed by a game watching party tonight at Garage Bar. Come out and join us?

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