All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Jackets Gamebox: @ Edmonton

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jackets Gamebox: @ Edmonton


@ Edmonton
10.22.09
9:30 PM EST

The Jackets bounced back well after losing an ugly one to San Jose with victories over Phoenix, Calgary and LA.

How will they respond tonight after losing ugly to Calgary when the face off against an Edmonton team who is 5-2-1 and winners of their past 2?

OFFENSE
Dustin Penner of all players is leading the Oil in offense racking up 5g, 4a for 9p in 8 games. Then who is next on their scoring chart? This may be a surprise but it's Gilbert Brule who is off to a great start with 4g, 3a in 7. Of course there is Alex Hemsky who always seems to come alive vs the Jackets.

The Oil have some firepower but up front and on their blueline even without Souray. They aren't the most rugged bunch but with 30 goals in 8 games they are burning some holes in nets. They have 8 players with 5 points or more.

Contrast that to the Jackets who have just 4 players with 5 or more points, albeit it one less game, you can see who has the advantage here.

Brass and Voracek got it going a bit in Calgary and the Jackets will that to continue but guys like Huselius, Vermette and Umberger have to be more consistent offensive threats than they've shown recently. I'd also like to see more shots getting through from the blueline on net.

Edge: Edmonton

DEFENSE
Now either it's the team defense or the goaltending or a combo but Edmonton has only give up 22 goals so far. That is good for 10th overall in the league. Just cruising the player stats they only have three minus players on the entire team.

For the Jackets it's fairly simple.. they have to right the ship at even strength. The balance of course is to know when to dump pucks out and knowing when to hang onto it and try to transition up the ice. The Jackets have been guilty of some bad judgement calls of late - especially in their own end.

Even with the 6 they gave up they are allowing slightly less goals than Edmonton and come in 9th overall in the league.

Personally I think this team is already missing Hejda and Commodore can't get back soon enough. Boys need to step up and they cannot allow the breakdowns they did against Calgary and expect to win.

Edge: Push

GOALTENDING
Edmonton has been getting solid starts from offseason acquisition Nikolai Khabibulin as well as a solid start from backup Jeff Deslauriers.

Bulin figures to get the nod tonight and both he and the Jackets have plenty of experience with one another.

Garon get's his 2nd start for the Jackets and will face his former squad. Garon was very sharp in Phoenix and will look to pick up where he left off... and besides, I can't pick against the the league leader in GAA and Save% according to NHL.com can I?


Edge: Push (yeah, I copped out)

SPECIAL TEAMS
Believe it or not but it's been the Jackets special teams that have been keeping them in games. Believe it or not the Jackets PP is ranked 10th in the league while the PK is 1st.

The Oil meanwhile have the 20th ranked PP with the 13th ranked PK.

This is all fine a good but we saw even with top ranked special teams if the Jackets can't prevent even strength goals then it doesn't matter.

Edge: Jackets

X FACTOR
The buzz words of this game are "even strength"! The Oil currently lead the league in even strength goals with 24.

The Jackets? They sit 21st with 10.

The problem is two fold. The Jackets haven't been able to score much even strength and they haven't been able to stop teams from scoring at even strength either.

As Hitch has alluded to the Jackets are getting too cute with the puck. They want to play with more puck possession but I think that has backfired a bit on them early in this campaign. They need to shore up their decisions and make the safe play if there isn't a play to make.

I'm also interested in seeing what Filatov looks like after a few weeks off. Although I'm not getting my hopes up that his leash will be much longer.

Edmonton has been a very tough team to beat at home as they are 4-1-1 there. The Jackets have another big challenge on their hands and they most certainly need a better start than the disaster in Calgary. Garon will need to stand tall and make some big game saves.

No live blog tonight as I am putting the finishing touches on the new lamp which will finally be lit tomorrow!

GO JACKETS!

-LTL

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