Game 63 Preview: Rising and Falling

A little over two months ago, the Jackets went into Edmonton looking to collect two points and a bit of pride after a bumpy trip out West.

They left with their tails between their legs, having taken a savage beating despite Kristian Huselius contributing a hat trick in a losing effort, and many thought it was the tipping point for the entire season slipping over the edge of a clif.

Instead, though the Jackets didn't really get back onto solid footing until January, they rebounded, recovered, and have put themselves back into position to scrap for a post-season berth, while the Oilers' quest for another #1 pick has been upset by a decent run of their own, and the dual collapses of St. Louis and Colorado. Though they are too far back to truly dig themselves out of the hole they made to seek a playoff spot, they are in a position to play spoiler for the rest of the season, as Nashville and the Bruins have learned already. Teams may get through Edmonton, but they're working hard not to let them simply get past them.

Game Time: 9:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 102.5 WWCD-FM
Blue Jackets vs Oilers coverage

Opponent's Blog: The Copper & Blue

Despite coming off a loss to Nashville and a long frustrating shootout loss to Vancouver, the Jackets are still in solid position, and the team seems to be getting a good boost from their new additions (the Upshall - Pahlsson - Dorsett line actually generated more shots than the rest of the top 6!) Steve Mason is still playing extremely well, and I have a feeling that he's going to want to get a little of his own back after being chased from the Rexall Center ice.

The Oilers are in a tough position - though they had a good "defiance" win over Nashville following the Dustin Penner trade, they also lost all star winger Ales Hemsky to a shoulder injury, and he has been ruled out of playing tonight. That will put more and more weight onto the shoulders of their young guns, and the Jackets need to find ways to make them collapse beneath that pressure.

It's time for the Jackets to rise up, and give the Oilers a push back towards the basement.

Keys To The Game:

  • Attack, attack, attack - Though the Jackets have had some rotten luck with crooked war room officials goal reviews and scoring in their last two games, they still averaged 31 shots a game in their last three contests, and frankly, Martin Gerber is no Roberto Luongo. Follow the same game plan of attacking the net as often as possible, and good things will happen. EDIT: Apparently Devan Dubnyk gets the start tonight instead of Gerber...and, well, I don't think Dubnyk's Pekka Rinne, either.
  • Defend, defend, defend - From the goalie out, the Jackets need to be prepared to handle Edmonton's speed. Steve Mason needs the defense to play the same way they did against Vancouver or Nashville, taking away the puck and pushing bodies around. Fortunately, both Lepisto and Upshall are quite used to doing this, having played against the Oilers as members of the Coyotes.
  • PK - Despite their impressive stable of young scoring talent, the Oilers are the worst Power Play in the NHL right now at 12.8%. Even better for the Jackets, their PK is also dead last at 76%. The Jackets have been exceptional penalty killers of late, and Tuesday night was the first time since Matt Calvert was added to the PP mixture that it came up totally dry. Let's keep up the good work shorthanded, and go ram some goals down the Oilers' throats with the man advantage.

Every win is vital, and the Oilers are solidly in the "Teams we should beat" category at this point in the year. A three point game isn't too much of a worry, given how they're trailing behind Columbus, but just as well to find a way to take them down fast and hard and not worry about it.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page Schedule
Roster Stats

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derek MacKenzie Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Matt Calvert
Scottie Upshall Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Ethan Moreau Andrew Murray Jared Boll
Jan Hejda Sami Lepisto
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

Edmonton Oilers

Magnus Paajarvi Shawn Horcoff Ryan Jones
Taylor Hall Andrew Cogliano Jordan Eberle
J. F. Jacques Sam Gagner Linus Omark
Zack Stortini Gilbert Brule Liam Reddox
Ladislav Smid Tom Gilbert
Jim Vandermeer Jason Strudwick
Richard Petiot Kurtis Foster
Devan Dubnyk
Martin Gerber

Tidbit: Remember when Master Of Puppets came out? Remember blasting Sanitarium in your van on the way to high school? Remember bumming cigarettes and listening to Battery in the back of a bus? Congratulations, we are old.

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