Game 69 Preview: Bear Trap
The difference between the Blue Jackets and the Boston Bruins, on paper, is 6 wins. The Bruins, with a 38-21-9 record, sit atop the Northeast Division, while the Jackets, 32-27-9, are desperately looking to find leverage back into the post-season.
Once you start looking at both clubs, of course, there are many other differences, but when you see the team's records set against each other like that, it's hard not to feel a strong pang of "What if...?"
|Game Time: 7:00 pm EST|
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)|
|Radio: 97.1 WFAN|
|Bruins vs Blue Jackets coverage|
Opponent's Blog: Stanley Cup Of Chowder
On the other hand, despite Boston's improved position, they're still in the midst of a four game losing streak as they step into Nationwide Arena tonight, and much like the Carolina Hurricanes that the Jackets pushed their way through on Saturday, their power play has been a major problem, currently 0-19 in their last eight games. The Jackets need to give the PK a few less opportunities to shine, but if they can continue to keep up the trend of highly effective kills, it could be exactly what they need to play a bit of a spoiler, and keep these bears hobbled.
Meanwhile, the Jackets have been shuffling their lines, and though the top line is intact, the second line has been organized into a bit more of a physical presence, with Jared Boll replacing Matt Calvert next to Umberger and Vermette, while Ethan Moreau was reunited with Pahlsson and Dorsett, giving Scottie Upshall, Derek MacKenzie, and Matt Calvert the chance to play together as a nasty "speed" line that can attack, agitate, and (hopefully) score.
Keys To The Game:
- Road Warriors - Despite their losing streak, the Bruins are still 22-9-4 on the road, and they'll be looking for some pride after losing to the Islanders Friday night. The Jackets have to use the same "relentless" mentality that helped them find the win in Carolina, while keeping the Bruins from getting comfortable in their own game plan.
- The Mage - Tim Thomas, wearing his unique mask / cage hybrid "mage", has been the rock of the Bruins, and has played some incredible games against the Jackets, including an epic goaltending duel two years ago, and a tense 3-2 nailbiter in Boston last season. Thomas is going to be on his game tonight, and the Jackets are going to need to create traffic around him as much as possible if they want to get pucks into the net.
- GET GOING - In the Jackets' 7 game slump, the most noticable absences from the score sheet have been Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger. It's simply bad luck that both have been cold of late, but the team needs them to snap their respective goalless streaks - they're two of the biggest engines for the offense, and they will need to be firing on all cylinders tonight.
Both teams are going to be hungry tonight - the Jackets need this game to try to help keep their sputtering flame alive, while the Bruins are feeling Montreal's breath on the back of their necks as they fight to keep their position atop the Northeast.
There's no reason to fear OT tonight - point creep won't hurt either side - but given the Jackets' recent struggles in OT and the shootout, they have to push to get things done in regulation if at all possible.
Blue Jackets Information:
|Roster|| Stats |
|Rick Nash||Derick Brassard||Jakub Voracek|
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Jared Boll|
|Ethan Moreau||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Scottie Upshall||Derek MacKenzie||Matt Calvert|
|Jan Hejda||Sami Lepisto|
|Fedor Tyutin||Marc Methot|
|Grant Clitsome||Kris Russell|
|Milan Lucic||David Krejci||Nathan Horton|
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||Rich Peverley|
|Mark Recchi||Chris Kelly||Michael Ryder|
|Daniel Paille||Gregory Campbell||Shawn Thornton|
|Zdeno Chara||Johnny Boychuk|
|Tomas Kaberle||Adam McQuaid|
|Dennis Seidenberg||Steve Kampfer|
Tidbit: Just a friendly reminder that if you have the opportunity to line up Greg Campbell for a hit...well, you might want to rethink that.