The Jackets take on the Nashville Predators for the 5th time tonight. They are 1-3 against them so far this season. The good news is that the finally got the Preds' monkey off their backs in a 2-1 shootout win in their last meeting.
So the question I have is does "Darth Vader" (the name given to the Preds by Hitch) strike back tonight? The Preds have lost two straight and will surely be motivated tonight as the team they've owned comes to town. Columbus has been their medicine to a bad cold in recent years so to speak. They've been slumpbusters.
The Jackets who are riding a 1 game losing streak will look to rebound against those pesky Preds. Will they be able to build upon their break though victory the last time they met? Can't they turn the tables on the Preds and make them slumpbusters?
Keys to lighting em up
Play your game. Hitch said it in the paper this morning that the Jackets got away from the game that makes them successful. That's a tight checking, know your role, know your system, everyone competes style of play. The Jackets tried to get to cute on multiple occassions, had missed assignments and didn't make that Coyotes work hard enough for their goals. That can't happen again tonight if the Jackets want to be successfull and grab the all important 2 points.
Leclaire. Needs to be our best player on the road. He let in a couple of goals he normally stops but unfortunately with our offense the way it is, this team can't afford that.
Offense. Rick and Nik showed stalled a bit on Tuesday. Nash looked tired from the All Star break. Nik looked rusty after his break in Florida. Need these two to be the offensive catalyst tonight.
Build off momentum of past win. The Jackets finally broke through against the Preds. They know they can beat these guys. They owe them a couple of good thumpings. Mindset needs to be not just beat these guys, but pound on em, mop em up. Jackets are due to lay down a good ass kicking tonight and who better to do that against than the Preds in their house.
Don't use Shelley as an excuse. Jody Shelley was a great Jacket and a great leader. The Jackets can't use his trade as an excuse to come out flat or play poorly. At the end of the day this is a business and each player has a job to do - player movement is an invetiable part of the business where they (or the fans) like it or not. The time to move forward is now.
Pred high tempo at home. Hitch mentioned on his radio show that the Preds play different at home than on the road. On the road they are a carefull conservative bunch. At home they play more of a wide open style. Jackets can't get caught reacting to that. They need to be ready and stick to their game play - they need to dictate how the game flows and thats control the neutral zone.
Preds are a pretty tough group to play against at home. They are 14-8-2. That's good but not world class. This team can easily be beaten at home.
Arnott and Dumont.....they are the Nash and Z of the Predators. Keep these two off the score board and the Jackets stand a good chance at winning this game.
Special teams identicle. Preds are 26th on the PP and 4th on the PK. Jackets are 25th on the PP and 3rd on the PK. Pretty obvious to me whomever can muster up a goal on the PP gains the advantage here.
Tootoo. I just want to see Boll take care of this guy. Tootoo just signed an extension btw -- so Jacket fans get used to seeing this clown a few more years.
SCORE FIRST (you knew it was comin!)
Will the B's play togehter? Boll, Brassard, Brule? Could be an interesting line. Something to watch for anyways. A goal from this group would go a long way towards a win.
Jackets have responded well after losses. Another challenge tonight. Another big two points. Both teams are still right in the thick of it for a playoff spot. Both teams should go after each other hard.