directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Jackets try for 2 straight on the road

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Jackets try for 2 straight on the road

The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the 22-12-6 San Jose Sharks tonight in San Jose. For the Jackets its a chance to make it two in a row on the road after they narrowly defeated the LA Kings two days ago by a score of 4-3.

The Sharks are an interesting team. They lost their last game at home in OT and haven't won there in 3 weeks. Believe it or not the Jackets actually have scored one more goal than the Sharks -- Jackets have 103 GF while the Sharks have 102. The Jackets have played in one more more game however.

Whats even more interesting than that is that the Sharks have allowed only 7 less goals but have 6 more points and 3 more wins in the standings. My what a goal less here or there could have done for the Jackets in the standings.

Keys to lighting em up

Jackets can beat this team. That's the mind set they must have and its true, especially when you break these two teams down. Yes, the Sharks have the player with the highest point total in Joe Thornton but the Jackets have better goaltending and more players with over 20 points. The Jackets have 4 in Nash, Z, Hainsey and Fedorov while the Sharks, believe it or not, only have two in Thornton and Michalek.

Shut down Thornton. Other than scoring first, I don't think there is a more important key to winning this game than shutting down Jumbo Joe. He leads the next closest scorer on this team in Michalek by 23 points.

Solve Nabokov. There is a reason why the Sharks have as many wins as it does and its because of solid defensive play and great goaltending by Nabokov. The Jackets Leclaire has a better Save % and GAA but Nabokov is still top 5 in the league in both categories. The Jackets have to find a way to beat him.

Leclaire. Has to be better than Nabokov. Simple as that.

Saturday night road game. The Sharks and their fans are itching for a win. Jackets have to weather the early storm and play their hard working game. No passengers tonight unless they want to give out 2 points as a late x-mas gift.

PP. Need a goal off the PP tonight.

Nash & Z. Need to outplay Thornton.

Don't allow struggling Sharks to gain confidence. You think the Jackets have some guys slumping this year like Vyborny? Then look at the Sharks to feel better. Former Rocket Richard winner Jonathen Cheechoo has 5g, 6a for 11 points through 33 games. Patrick Marleau, is off to the worst start of his career since his rookie year - he is a whopping -11 and only has 7g, 11a for 18 points. Ouch!


The Jackets have never one in regulation in San Jose. In fact they only have 1 OT win.

That said, this is certainly a winnable game for the Jackets but most have been. They need to work for it. They need to play more like they did against Anaheim as opposed to the LA Kings. They need to stay out of the box and they need some timely goals.

Hitch has these guys pointed in the right direction on this road trip so lets see if they can keep the momentum going tonight. A win would be huge before heading into St. Louis for their final game of this 4 game road trip.

On a side note, keep an eye on Marleau. He could be a guy the Jackets target some time this year or this offseason as a potential #1 center for Rick Nash regardless of his struggles this year.



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