This is a new game preview feature I'll be running before every game this season.
I'm calling it the "Jackets Game Box". Before each game I'll break down 4 corners of the game and declare an edge to the team which I feel is the strongest in that "corner". I will conclude with an "X factor" which basically will be my opportunity to comment on anything specific to this particular game and/or opponent.
Just like the team in pre-season I'm going to use these next 8 games to work out the kinks and would appreciate any constructive feedback you may have.
It's preseason so we won't see all the regulars.
For Pittsburgh they have Crosby and Gonchar in the lineup which is always potent. They are complimented by Staal and Kunitz. They certainly have some firepower.
The Jackets are dressing some firepower of their own but mostly of the younger variety. Vermette and Umberger give them a veteran scoring presense with Voracek, Brassard and Filatov being the young buckaroos.
...but not by much. I think the star power of Crosby/Gonchar/Staal are offset by the sheer quantity and quality of offensive NHLers dressed for the Jackets. Unfortunately those Penguin stars are going against a prospect/AHL heavy CBJ defense in front of their home crowd for the first time coming off a Stanley Cup winning season.
Pittsburgh is dressing 3 regulars in Gonchar, McKee and Eaton. The Jackets have just two regulars in Russell and Methot - both 3rd pairing players.
Gonchar's presence alone sets these defenses apart.
Stanley Cup winning starting goaltender Fleury gets the nod for the Penguins while his backup for part of last year, Garon, will see his first action in a CBJ sweater.
No brainer who has the edge here but it wouldn't' surprise me to see Garon turn in a game stealing performance tonight against his old squad.
Last year's stats are pretty much worthless in the pre-season but I'll throw them out there anyways:
PIT: PP (20th) PK (8th)
CBJ: PP (30th) PK (13th)
Both teams have their share of firepower up front but it's the backend and goaltending that usually make the difference on the PP.
Fleury and Gonchar push the edge in the Penguins favor.
Jackets have the cards stacked against them for this one with it being the Penguins first home game since winning cup last season. It should be at least an "announced" sellout at Mellon Arena and their players will want to put on a show.
The Jackets do have some hungry and skilled youngsters in the lineup who could swing this one in favor of the Jackets pretty quickly.
Keep a lookout for either Boll or Sestito to drop em with Godard.
Puck drops at 7: 30 EST. Game can be heard over at BlueJackets.com. The Penguins video feed is also scheduled to be streamed at this link.
Here is another link to try for streaming as well.