Game Preview #12 - Message Received?

Is it possible that the Jackets' OT loss on Thursday finally got through to them that, you know, you can't abandon your game for 10 or 15 minutes when the other team pushes back?

Edmonton Oilers at Columbus Blue Jackets

February 10, 2013 - 6:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: The Copper and Blue
SBNation Game Page

If you're looking for an advantage for the Jackets, it's that they've had two nights to stew in the loss to Calgary Thursday, in which they lost a lead in the second period, came back to tie it in the third, and then after peppering Leland Irving with chances early in the OT gave up a rush the other way to lose it just that quickly. Todd Richards talked of the Jackets "losing their game," and he said: "when it's gone, it's gone."

So, there's a lesson there, one would assume.

The Oilers come in sporting some strange stats: they are all of a sudden a better defensive team and then not scoring at the clip their used to, despite repeatedly adding top-shelf young scorers (Nail Yakupov leads the team with five goals). Look at the team comparisons below: the Oilers are top 10 in defense and PK, and top five in PP. Yet, their goals per game is down in the 20s. Huh.

At any rate, the Oilers are the more tired club, having played last night in Detroit (a 2-1 loss). Columbus has had a chance to rest, to practice, and hopefully to figure out how not to let their opponents' push-back knock them out of doing what works best for them.

Sergei Bobrovsky is in net tonight, but otherwise the lineup should be the same. David Savard was sent to AHL Springfield earlier this week.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(3-6-2, 8 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Derick Brassard Brandon Dubinsky Nick Foligno
R.J. Umberger Artem Anisimov Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert Mark Letestu Vinny Prospal
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Jack Johnson Tim Erixon
Nick Holden Cody Goloubef
Sergei Bobrovsky
Steve Mason

Edmonton Oilers
(4-4-3, 11 Points; 3rd Division, 11th Conference)

Nail Yakupov Sam Gagner Ales Hemsky
Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle
Ben Eager Ryan Smyth Lennart Petrell
Teemu Hartikainen Eric Belanger Magnus Paajarvi
Nick Schultz Justin Schultz
Ladislav Smid Corey Potter
Mark Fistric Jeff Petry
Devan Dubnyk
Nikolai Khabibulin

Season Series

02/10/13 - Edmonton at Columbus
03/05/13 - Edmonton at Columbus
03/28/13 - Columbus at Edmonton

Head to Head

Edmonton Columbus
2.18 (23) GPG 2.00 (30)
2.54 (10) GAPG 3.18 (23)
25.9% (4) PP% 14.6% (25)
85.2% (8) PK% 83.3% (10)
Nail Yakupov, 5 G leader Artem Anisimov / Mark Letestu, 4
Sam Gagner / Taylor Hall, 8 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 7
Sam Gagner, 11 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin, 8
Ladislav Smid, 27 PIM leader Jared Boll, 46
2-3-1 Road/Home 2-3-2
2/9 @ Detroit, L 2-1 Last Game 2/7 vs Calgary, L 4-3 (OT)
3-4-3 Last 10 2-6-2

Game Notes

  • Nail In The Coffin - While Ryan Murray rehabs his shoulder, we'll get to see "what could have been" tonight as Nail Yakupov plays his first game against the Jackets. Yakupov has 5/3/8 in his first 11 NHL games, but is still seeing just under 15 minutes per game in ice time. It looks like he may get the move to the top line tonight, so expect that number to go up.
  • Special Teams - The Jackets now have PPGs in four of their last five games (4-for-18, 22.2%) after a prolonged drought. However, their PP still looks like a feast-or-famine operation, as when they had two minutes of PP time in the last two minutes of regulation Thursday night against the second-worst PK unit in the league, they couldn't even hold the zone for most of it. Consistency needs to be the name of the game. I'm not sure what needs to change, but I keep coming back to their method of entry into the zone. It almost seems that if they don't win a faceoff in the zone, they'll spend the next 45-60 seconds just trying to get the puck in and hold it there. I am not a huge fan of "dump and chase" as a method of setting up on the PP, but that seems to be what this teams goes back to over and over. The Oilers are a top-10 PK unit, so that probably won't fly tonight. Conversely, the Oilers' PP unit is deadly. The Jackets' kill--when it's on--is tough to solve. They're 10-for-12 over the past three games, and both goals have been flukey: Jeff Carter throwing one in off of Fedor Tyutin's skate from below the goal line, and Lee Stempniak wiring a slap shot past Bobrovsky as time expired on a PP Thursday night. They'll need their A-game PK tonight, for sure.
  • Rebound for Bob - To that last point, Bob did not have his best game Thursday night. There were at least two goals he'd probably like to have back, and he was beaten and bailed out by the posts a couple of other times. Some of it was defensive lapses, but the PPG by Stempniak HAS to be saved. It changed the complexion of the entire third period. Bob needs to be better tonight. Hopefully some continuity and practice time for the defense in front of him will help as well.

Columbus is 1-2-1 on this current homestand, with two more games to go. There's still a chance to leave town with a better-than-.500 homestand. Just sayin'.

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