directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Peca & Torres to see first game action tonight

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Peca & Torres to see first game action tonight

The Jackets take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at Nationwide Arena. The 'hawks are 3-0 in preseason coming off a 4-3 agains Dallas last night. The Jackets meanwhile are 1-3 with all 3 losses coming on the road with mostly non-regulars in the lineup.

Tonight will be the second game of this preseason where Hitch will ice regular heavy lineup. In fact out of the lineup below I count, as does Puck-rakers, 19 players who are expected to make the opening night roster:

F1: Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius
F2: Fredrik Modin, R.J. Umberger, Jake Voracek
F3: Raffi Torres, Michael Peca, Jared Boll
F4: Alexandre Picard, Jiri Novotny, Andrew Murray

D1: Jan Hejda, Mike Commodore
D2: Fedor Tyutin, Rostislav Klesla
D3: Kris Russell, Christian Backman

G1: Pascal Leclaire
G2: Fredrik Norrena

Hitch notes in this morning's paper that these last 3 home games will be used to work on chemistry. There is also an piece on the PP and how its extremely important to get quick puck movement not only from the forwards but more importantly from the backend. So expect a lot of attention in that area which is vitally important. Just think back to last season when all of those 1 goal games slipped away and if we just could have scored 1 PP goal how different the season could have been.

Stories to watch for:

* The top 6 looked real good versus a fairly stacked Nashville defense on Friday - can they build on that?

* Can Brassard and Voracek continue their strong camps?

* PP point watch -- who is going to emerge as our PP point men. It appears Backman and Russell are the favorites for the first unit but need improvement. Does Tyutin make a push... or how about putting one of the rookies back there in Voracek or Brassard?

* Leclaire was definitely rusty on Friday... how will he look in game #2?

* Its Torres' first game action since his nasty MCL/ACL injury 9 months ago. Torres plays a gritty North American style game when healthy but is going to need some time to regain confidence in that leg. Lets see how this next step for him in his recovery goes tonight.

* Its interesting to me that Peca comes back the same night as Torres. If you recall last year Peca was recovering from a broken leg and certainly had his challenges regaining his confidence in his injury. Well after some time off with bronchitis, he begins his 2nd year as a Jacket tonight and will look to build off a decent year last season.

* Both Peca and Torres formed a formidable line in Edmonton, especially in the playoffs, so we'll see if that chemistry can re-ignite itself.

* Picard sees his 2nd game of the preseason after notching a goal in his first. He's kind of the forgotten man on the depth chart after being the 8th overall draft pick in the 2004 draft. He's also a guy who came off a nasty injury last season so lets see what he's got tonight in a 4th line role.

* Kristian Huselius struggled a bit through the first 2 periods on Friday but really came on strong in the 3rd. Clearly shaking off the rust. I thought Modin was the same. I look for stronger games from both of these wingers tonight.

Raffi Torres makes his CBJ debut tonight so hopefully we'll see some signs of what he can bring to the table. Also Peca is in the lineup playing where he fits best which is the 3rd line hole.

I'll be very interested in how our PP points perform. Can Backman gets shots through from the point? How does Russell do looking for the backdoor plays? Can Tyutin or someone else emerge to help carry that load? How is the overall chemistry?

Crowd salue at the end of the anthem

I haven't seen Chicago's lineup yet but last night they dressed all their big guns in Toews, Kane, Sharp and Campbell. The 'hawks notched 3 PP goals and Campbell had 4 assists. Translation -- these guys can score and make you pay if you take penalties. The Jackets have to be a lot more discplined than they were against Tootoo and those Preds.

They also need to take advantage of being a man up alot more this season than last. The quest to find that chemistry moves onto page 2 tonight.

I'm heading to the Garage Bar tonight to see what that is all about so if your looking for some pre/post game suds stop on over!


1 comment:

Max said...

Look for Peca and Torres to be rusty, Torres more so. The rust might extend into the season a little bit, as well, but don't be alarmed. He'll get right back into it soon. I hope this year that Hitch will be able to roll all four lines. Most teams only use 3, if we can get to a point where our third and fourth lines are very close in checking ability, I think we'll be able to wear teams down.