directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts: Bounce back time

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Bounce back time

Coming off a "Coyote Ugly" loss (damn, I should have used that as a title) to Phoenix on Wednesday the Jackets hit the road for games against Buffalo (tonight) and Minnesota (tomorrow night).

First up are the Sabres whom the Jackets are a surprising 5-2-1 against all time including 3-2-1 in Buffalo. Thsi season the Sabres are 9-3-3 with a solid 5-2-1 home record. They are led by Tomas Vanek (yeah, another guy the Jackets could have drafted from the powerhouse '03 class) who can, how should I say, light the lamp! He's got 12g, 3a for 15 points in 15 games. His 12 goals are second best in the league.

The Sabres are a sound club all around. They have strong goaltending, a offense that can move the puck and dent the back of the net and plenty of grit mixed in. Their special teams are truly special with the 6th ranked PP and 4th ranked PK - that's how they beat you.

Yeah, the Jackets better show up to have a chance tonight.

* Jackets have to do a better job on special teams than the Sabres. If they want to win the must win these battles.

* Vanek is their horse. He can score just about anywhere on the ice in just about any fashion. In tight, slap shot, deflections, on the rush... he's dangerous. Jackets have got to contain him.

* Need an inspired effort here.... none of this "too much rest" crap as an excuse. Boys need to come out ready to play from the drop of the first puck... hell, I want them ready to play on the bus ride over... just chomping at the bit to get out there and win this one.

* Sabres are similar to the Canadiens.. they have speed and quick transition. The Jackets cannot give up the kinds of odd man rushes and quality chances they did against Phoenix. They must be much more aware of who is on the ice and play a much stronger/tighter game positionally as our d is not the most mobile group in the NHL.

* Be it Mason or Leclaire... going to need some game changing saves tonight.. the Jackets must get above average goaltending.

* The rookies continue to show up.. its time for some vets to carry some of the load. Nash finally got on the board...will that spark him? The Modin-Peca-Torres line cooled a bit and we need it to heat up. Umberger and Huselius also need to contribute...

* I really hope Methot can go tonight *crosses fingers & toes*.

After getting called out by Hitch, how does 61 respond? I look for a big game from the monster.

As a poster pointed out earlier, the good news is that the Jackets play up to their competition. The bad news is that they also play down. Fortunately they are looking up tonight as the Sabres are a very strong opponent.

Its all starts at 7:30 tonight.




Rick said...

Just saw this on Puck Rakers...

"Brass up?
Fans clamoring for Derick Brassard's elevation to the first line might be getting their wish.

Here is how the Jackets are skating


More after practice."

Hey, ya never know what Hitch is gonna do.

Go Jackets!!!

LTL said...

Interesting that Brass is up to #1... what's even more interesting to me is now Voracek is on the 4th line and Umberger is back to playing wing after a decent showing at center?

Manny Malhotra is not a top 6 player and never will be.... why does he keep trying to squeeze a square into a round hole?

..and Murray is a scratch?

I'm all for trying Brass on top but the 2nd/4th lines boggle me. I can see shaking things up with moving Brass but do we need that big of a makeover on the 2nd/4th lines after one bad game?

We'll find out tonight.


Wally said...

Umberger back to wing & Voracek on 4th line? Hmm.

Baron said...

TSN has Brassard as the #1 rated rookie as well as the #16 rated Center overall (interestingly enough just ahead of Spezza) in their weekly rankings.
It's time he gets a chance to see what he is capable of.

My question is - why no Murray? he is one of the few who consistently brings it every game. I would rather see Boll sit. I don't think his willingness to drop the gloves will keep him here much longer if he can't contribute offensively.

LTL said...

I want to see what the defense looks like b/c the secret is most definitely out -- pressure our d and they'll cough up the puck -- especially in PP situations.

I *really* hope Methot is back in the lineup tonight.


Rick said...

The one thing that always seems to stick out to me is the fact that Hitch is just unpredictable. Right, wrong or indiffernt, he has this little voice in his mind that we (unfortunately) are not privy to. I think we all know that whatever Hitch does, there always seems to be a reason behind. He doesn't seem to be the kind of coach to just change things up willy-nilly and expect it to work.

erik said...

LTL/Fellow LTL readers,

I think it's safe to say 90%+ of us are thinking of these lines....


I can see why Hitch is putting MM on the 2nd line..with Chimmer and RJ... that's a good size/speed line... but as LTL correctly pointed out... MM is not a top 6 player.

Also I once again agree with LTL, wtf on Murray... that kid plays hard and competes each game... he does the little things right and really is a solid contributor every single night... Not quite sure about that move...

I think Hitch needs to bring up Novotny and let Boll sit for a while... he hasn't been his usual self... give him some games to recover..

I think Hitch might be putting Voracek on the 4th to give him some rest, the kid looks pretty rough...

LTL said...

Yeah there is definitely thought put behind every move -- this definitely isn't "pull names from a hat" Gerard Gallant caliber coaching.

..but that said, from the cheaps seats point of view you have to scratch your head over some of this.

Why keep going back to Manny in the top 6? Its been tried time and time again and it just isn't going to work.

I read this Einstein quote in Bob Hunter's rumblings this morning and thought it fit here as well:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."


LTL said...

Erik -

I completely agree about Boll. Something has been off with him all season. Guy just needs some time to heal up I think.

Good point on Voracek. He may be hitting an early wall and he took that nasty stick to the grill last game. I still expect about 10-12 minutes for him assuming we get some PPs.


Rick said...

From Puck Rakers:

Here is your lineup for tonight's game:



Rick said...

Pazzy in goal tonight, Mason Saturday.

lamdeveg said...

We are starting to see slights where there aren't any. They are starting Lalime because Miller is 1-1-1 with a 3.65 gaa & .889 save percentage over his last 3 games!!! (Courtesy of Hockey News/Tale of the tape)

Mattlund said...

Inspired by the almighty LTL, Blog-Rakers attempts their very first PREGAME blog:

Thanks for the inspiration, LTL.

LTL said...

"My pleasure" Mattlund.

"1. Arnold Schwarzenegger fails to defeat SKYNET, and all the machines go rouge. One of these machines, a zamboni on the Buffalo, ice veers into the Blue Jackets bench, disabaling Derick Brassard, Pascal Leclaire, Rick Nash, and Jakub Voracek."