directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Thank gawd hockey's back!

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Thank gawd hockey's back!

Yeah so its only been 4 days since the Jackets last played a game! That's a loooooong time for us hockey nerds. Especially when your team in on a roll and fighting for its first playoff birth ever!

I can't wait to get this show back on the road and it all kicks back off tonight as the surprising 25-20-6 Columbus Blue Jackets take on the equally surprising 26-21-2 Phoenix Coyotes.

Of course the Coyotes are the team that fell victim to "the goal" scored by Rick Nash on January 17th that led to a loss but since then they rattled of two consecutive wins and come into Nationwide on a high note similar to the Jackets who are also riding a two game winning streak and 6 out of their last 8.

Keys to lighting em up

Don't lay an egg. This is the Jackets first game back since an emotional and successful 5 game road trip. This Coyotes team comes to work every night and if the Jackets think for a second this will be an easy win tonight -- they'll have a quick wake up call. I have a lot of hesitation regarding this game as it just feels like things could snowball in a bad way quick if the Jackets decide to take a night off.

No nights off if they want to stay in the hunt. This is a little redundant but it can't be stressed enough. The Jackets have to regain their focus quickly and get back to work. If they want to stay in the race, the can't afford any passengers.

Out work the workers. The Coyotes are a hard working team. Much like the Jackets they don't have enough skill to outskill opponents - they have to outwork them. Win battles along the boards, races to lose pucks, go to those dirty areas to score, strong backchecks, play physical in front of Pazzy, no missed assignments. All areas that the Jackets will need to be better in to win this game.

Slow Doan. Shane Doan is the 'yotes best player. Need to slow this guy down. He is a rock to knock off the puck and has a nice scoring touch. Can't let this guy beat you.


Home advantage. The Jackets have one of the best home records in the league (16-6-4). With only 15 games at home they need every point they can muster in their own barn. Again, the Jackets need use every advantage they can get and this is one of them.

Special teams. PK has been a lifeline this season -- keeping us in many many games which is why its ranked #1 in this league. Need some offense from the #22 ranked PP tonight. On the flip side the 'yotes are average on special teams 15th on the PP and 18th on the PK. What that means is that on any given night they can beat you on special teams alone -- Jackets need to be ready.

Rick and Nik show. Its gets harder and harder from this point forward. Both of these guys need to be even better than they have been. They are the catalysts for this offense.

Secondary scoring. That said, Nash and Z can't do it alone. Need guys like Modin/Brassard/Russell/Feds/Glencross/Vybes/Chimera/Fritsche/Manny to step and contribute offensively.

Leclaire. Has to be better than Bryzgalov who is playing great this season. This should be a good goaltending matchup tonight.

Also look out for a Daniel Carcillo vs. Jared Boll show down. Both sit 1st (Carcillo 172 PIM) and 2nd (Boll 157 PIM) in overall penalty minutes in the league and both are in the same weight class so to speak.

Really this game is going to come down to who wants it more and is the more motivated team after the break. The Jackets have the series lead this season winning both contents. The 'yotes may be lookin for a little redemption after giving up that spectacular Nash goal late in their last meeting.

These are two similar teams going at it tonight. If you don't have your tickets go out and buy some and support this team! We'll see you at the Rbar for pre-game!


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