Game Preview #23 - Have We Turned a Proverbial Corner?

The Jackets now have three straight games with at least a point, a .500 home points-record, and are threatening to climb out of the NHL cellar. Has this group turned a corner?

Edmonton Oilers at Columbus Blue Jackets

March 5, 2013 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WWCD 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: The Copper and Blue
SBNation Game Page

First and foremost, sorry for the lateness of this preview. Sometimes life--and the bill-paying day job that comes with it--gets in the way. All of that said...

The Jackets are coming off of a win against Colorado in which you could actually see a game plan tailored to their opponent being executed. Edmonton is another one of those teams that can give Columbus fits when their offensive skill is allowed free reign in the offensive zone and on the rush. It would be nice to see Columbus come back with the same kind of commitment to keeping the Oilers on the edges, as well as a concerted effort not to give up the gross turnover in their own zone... ya know, like last time we played these guys.

The Jackets got some bad news and some better news today. Nikita Nikitin is unable to play tonight after his injury on Sunday. However, Jack Johnson and Derick Brassard will be coming back and taking the ice again tonight for Columbus. I like the pairing of Tyutin and JMFJ, as Johnson brings some mobility and additional offense to go with Tyutin's steadiness.

According to Porty, Brassard will most likely draw in on the fourth line, which sucks on its face. However, considering he hasn't played in few games, I'm OK with it for now. I think the top three lines have actually been playing well the past two games, and I have no problem letting them continue to try to build some chemistry. I especially like the 11--42--13 line right now.

The Oilers are a banged up team right now, and are 3-5-1 since these two clubs last met. They made a move to pick up Mike Brown from Toronto, and our colleagues at The Copper and Blue summed it up thusly: "The Oilers made a huge move yesterday, acquiring Mike Brown from Toronto. Brown will play on the fourth line and punch people." What this Oilers team needs is some defenders. Still. Again.

The short version: if Columbus can continue to play like they have been--and did against the Oil last time out--and just eliminate those groin-kickingly-bad own-zone turnovers, they should be able to hang with this team and possibly beat them.

It's called a winning streak. It has happened before.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(6-12-4, 16 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Artem Anisimov Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Derek Dorsett
Derick Brassard Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Tim Erixon Adrian Aucoin
Cody Goloubef Dalton Prout
Steve Mason
Sergei Bobrovsky

Edmonton Oilers
(8-9-4, 20 Points; 5th Division, 14th Conference)

Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ales Hemsky
Magnus Paajarvi Sam Gagner Jordan Eberle
Ryan Jones Eric Belanger Nail Yakupov
Ben Eager Ryan Smyth Mike Brown
Ladislav Smid Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz Justin Schultz
Theo Peckham Ryan Whitney
Devan Dubnyk
Yann Danis

Season Series

02/10/13 - Edmonton 3 at Columbus 1
03/05/13 - Edmonton at Columbus
03/28/13 - Columbus at Edmonton

Head to Head

Edmonton Columbus
2.33 (25) GPG 2.18 (28)
2.71 (14) GAPG 2.96 (24)
21.5% (6) PP% 13.6% (27)
85.9% (6) PK% 84.6% (8)
Ales Hemsky, 8 G leader Vinny Prospal, 8
Taylor Hall, 14 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 11
Sam Gagner, 20 Pts leader three tied, 12
Ladislav Smid, 33 PIM leader Jared Boll, 74
4-5-2 Road/Home 4-4-3
2/9 @ Detroit, L 2-1 Last Game 3/3 vs Colorado, W 2-1 (OT)
4-5-1 Last 10 3-5-2

Game Notes

  • Deja Vu - Here we are, yet again, with these two clubs in 14th and 15th place. Seems like we were just here, no?
  • Special Teams - The Jackets finally broke their dry spell on the Power Play with two goals on Sunday. Their PK streak continues, and they've climbed back up to 8th. The issue for this game? Edmonton is actually quite good on special teams this season despite their record. The Jackets will need to try to build on the PP success from Sunday against a tough customer on the kill. Likewise, they will have a tough act on the PK tonight against a solid PP unit from the Oilers.
  • Goaltending - Interesting that Todd Richards is going with Steve Mason, who has not made many starts at home. Bob was solid on Sunday, but it must be (scientifically) pointed out that Mason has had three great starts and three clunkers in his past six starts, and they've alternated: good--bad--good--bad--good--bad. In my book, then, he's due!

Columbus has looked--almost--like not the worst team in the league over their last six games. Other teams are taking notice of their work ethic and effort. Remember, a beautiful house isn't built in one day by one tradesperson. It takes a foundation. This *could* be that foundation, people.

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