directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Jackets vs. St. Louis

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pre-game thoughts: Jackets vs. St. Louis

Its the battle of the "Blues"....

Tonight the 4-3-1 Jackets square off against Central division rival the 5-2 St. Louis Blues. It will be the first time the Jackets have faced the Blues this season and will no doubt be a tough game.

The Blues are off to a heckofa start to this season. They went through a similar coaching change last season as ours when they brought in coaching veteran Andy Murray -- and he's had a huge impact.

The Blues, so far this year, have shown that they are a very difficult team to score against. They have only allowed a league low of 14 goals but have also played the fewest games in the league at 7. The Jackets aren't too shabby themselves only giving up 19 goals over 8 games which is tied for 5th best in the league.

Keys to lighting em up

The Jackets must keep the pedal to the metal. So far over the 8 games they've played they gone W - L - W - L - O - W - L - W -- obviously there is a patter there. The Jackets tend to let down after big wins and come out strong off of disappointing losses. This is another opportunity for them to string wins together and gain some important division points.

Offense needs to stay hot. The Jackets put up a 7 spot in Chicago and while I don't think they need to score that many to win (although who doesn't want to hear the cannon 7 times!) they need to continue to get contributions from everyone and keep burying the biscuit. So whatever worked on Tuesday - do it again tonight.

To continue on the scoring theme....Manny Legace is playing very well for St. Louis as is their whole defense. To me they are a similar team to us in terms of the tight defensive game they play, their reliance on goaltending on their focus on special teams play for goals. Legace is 4 wins, 2 losses and is carrying a .201 GAA and a .925 save % - some nice numbers.

The Jackets have got to limit Paul Kariya and Jacket killer Keith Tkachuk. Kariya is off to a flying start with the Blues collecting 11 points in 7 games While Tkachuk 9 points in 7. Brad Boyes, whom the Blues got back in a trade with the Bruins last year, is also off to a hot start leading the team in goals scored with 6. Limit those three and chances are the Jackets win this game.

Batten down the hatches. The Chicago game became a little bit of a shoot out in the Wild Wild West but there are nights when its gonna be whomever scores last turn off the lights. The Jackets need to get back to their defensive system and with Pascal Leclaire getting the start tonight, make the saves your supposed to make.

Look for the Jackets to shake up the lineup a bit tonight. The Chimera-Manny-Boll line has stalled offensively and coach Hitchcock has said he'd like to get Zherdev playing with Novotny again. I think we'll see Chimera with Nash and Peca while Manny will probably slot in with Brule and Fritsche.

Edit: Just saw the updated lines from the Dispatch blog. Looks like the Nash-Peca-Z line will stay together. Brule moves up with Fedorov and Vyborny. Fritsche moved to the Chimera-Manny line. Shelley-Novotny-Boll should round out the lineup. I'm a little surprised to see Novotny on the line w/ Shelley and Boll but he should be shuffeled around on the 2nd PP unit and PK thus he'll see his share of minutes.

Look for a very physical one tonight. Jody Shelley is also scheduled to play so there may be some extra fisticuffs as well. This is an important early game for both squads as they look to solidify their good early starts to the season. The Jackets have failed to win their past two home games and *should* come out with some fire. Both teams won their last games.

So lets see if the Jackets can get out of this Win-Loss-Win-Loss funk and string some wins together. A win leaps frogs us over Chicago (assuming they lose) and St. Louis in the standings to 2nd in the division with 11 points!


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