directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Jackets face big challenge in big D

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Jackets face big challenge in big D


The Jackets kick of season #8 today on the road against the Dallas Stars...and if they were looking for a challenge early they've certainly found one.

The Dallas Stars went 45-30-7 good for 95 points last season. They are very strong up the middle with Ribeiro, Richards and Modano and are backed by All-Star goalie Marty Turco in net. The Stars do have some significant injuries most notably to PP QB extrodanaire Sergei Zubov. They are considered a Stanely Cup contending team.

The Jackets, coming off their best season of 80 points, will introduce 6 new faces to their lineup tonight -- it will be 8 if you consider both Brassard and Picard were not regulars last season. After a 4-4 pre-season the new-look Jackets will get their first big test tonight right out of the gate against a solid and seasoned Dallas Stars team. The good news is that they played the Stars well last season going 1-1-2 (yeah, two shootout losses).


*Weather the early storm. Teams tend to come out fired up for their home openers and I expect that to be the case tonight. The Jackets will need to play solid mistake free hockey and capitalize on any early chances to take the crowd out of it.

* Nash-Umberger-Huselius will have to carry the mail offensively. The way Hitch has configured the lines (which, if history shows, could certainly be juggled within the first 5 minutes of the game) is the only real scoring line is this one. They showed well in their only pre-season game against Minnesota and will have to again tonight for the Jackets to achieve a victory.

* Will Hitch turn the kids loose? No telling how much Voracek and Brass will be used tonight but if the Jackets get down early I expect their playing time to increase.

* Leclaire has to be on his game. I expect a very low scoring tight checking game which leaves very little room for error for "the grinch". He'll have to be sharp right out of the gate.

* If this thing gets to OT lets start off on the right foot and get the 'W' be it in OT or the Shootout.

* PP must contribute. Backman must gets shots through. Russell must jump into holes to create odd man situations down low. Screens put in place. Pucks must be moved fast and accurately. The skill has to do its job.

* Cohesive defensive unit. The top 4 of Commodore, Hejda, Tyutin and Klesla need to on the same pages and human erasers in our zone. They also need to make good, quick first passes.

* Ignore Avery. Super-pest Sean Avery will most certainly be looking to make his mark in his first game as a Star. Don't get sucked into his antics which will lead to....

* Bad penalties. The Jackets put themselves in to many bad situations in pre-season -- especially 2-men down situations - can't do that against this Stars team and hope to win.

* PK need to be much sharper than it was in pre-season.


I think it has to be on the Nash-Umberger-Huselius line b/c at this point they are our only scoring line. Dallas is going to throw everything they have at these guys to lock them down - can they still produce?

No doubt the Jackets are going to have to work hard for this one. The thing they really have going for them is the "unknown" factor. Nobody knows what to expect from this team including the Jackets. They could really sneak up on Dallas or they could lay be a very big egg.

Make no mistake about it though - if they can somehow scratch and claw their way to 2 points on the road, on opening night in Dallas, then that would be a huge momentum boost to the start of this season.

Remember if your looking for a place to watch the game the Jackets are having their official opening night party down at the Frog Bear & Wild Boar next to the arena. The Jackets Backers are also have an event for their members.

Let the games begin!




roadman said...

If the Leafs can take it to the mighty Wings on the night they hang the banner and all, then the Jackets can sure do the same in Dallas.

Drop the Puck GO JACKETS!!

Erik said...

Looking at the lines, I think Hitch is up to something...
Hitch would never play Brass and Jake on the same line, 2 rookies on 1 line with CHIMERA ?? (2 young players that excel at the setup, paired with Chimera, who's not exactly known as a finisher)
Novotny and Murray on the second... I am giving Novotny some credit, he was very good in the pre-season... Picard, Boll, Murray and Novotny higher in the lineup then Jake and Brass... It makes no sense...

I am calling BS on this... I seriously think Hitch pulled this out of his rear-end to confuse Dallas.

I guess I can't wait to see tonight's game, and lines unfold... How much time are Jake and Brass getting ?? Is Modin going to shine after a mediocre preseason ?? Can Huselius produce with Nash and Umberger... LeClaire needs to be sharp, really sharp.. and finally I get to SEE the action... DROP THE PUCK .... Let's go Jackets..

Sean said...

Did ya'll see in the Dispatch, buried somewhere, is that Boll has the go ahead to fight on his hand?! That could be a big game changer tonight. I predict an assist for Voracek, I've got no reason to believe that kid is slowing down. Nothing to lose.

LTL said...

Hey Sean.. yep, I did catch that. I think we can all expect a Boll / Barch showdown tonight.

Remember Boll had 27 fights last season while the 6'2" 200 lber Barch has 17...

Also keep an eye on Ott. If Dorsett was in the lineup I'm put money those two would go...