Cannonball: Preview of the Predators

Tomorrow the Jackets travel to music city to visit Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators (6-3-1 in last 10). The Jackets have hit a bit of a skid as of late (5-5-0 in last 10) and have not looked good even in the games we have won as of late. With all-star weekend providing a much needed break to most of the team (except for Jones, Bobrovsky, and hopefully Atkinson now that Malkin is out) which may be just what they need. Not to sound like a grade school coach, but it just doesn’t look like they are having much fun out there right now.

The last three meetings between the Predators and Jackets have not been all that exciting with Nashville taking two out of three games played and all three were won by four goals. Both teams enter this game with a new marquee defender on the roster Nashville via trade (Weber for Subban) and the Jackets via draft (Werenski) and both enter Thursday sporting injuries on defense (Josi for NSH, Savard and Nutivaara for CBJ – Savard may be available).

Here is a quick team stats comparison:

Offense Ranking:   CBJ: 3rd  NSH: 12th

Defense Ranking: CBJ: 4th  NSH: 10th

Power play ranking: CBJ: 1st  NSH: 16th

Penalty Kill Ranking: CBJ: 8th  NSH:10th

Goals per Game AVG: CBJ: 3.30  NSH: 2.75

Goals Against AVG: CBJ: 2.32  NSH: 2.52

PIM per Game: CBJ: 9.1  NSH: 9.8

Shot Differential per Game: CBJ: .32  NSH: .92

Player Highlight:

For the CBJ Cam Atkinson just keeps scoring goals (second in the NHL only to some guy named Crosby) and has done so in the last two games even with being taken off the NHL’s #1 power play unit.

For NSH while former Jacket Ryan Johansen leads the club in points (36), Filip Forsberg has been coming on over the course of the last 15 days after a tumultuous start to the season. He is currently 15-17-32 with a -4 +/-.

Game Insight:

The current question is who will start in goal for the CBJ? Korpisalo has not been strong in his last full showing giving up six in a win against Ottawa (though he did stop the bleeding against NYI once Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up four), and Bobrovsky is coming off a game in which he was pulled (his third this season, Boston, Washington, New York Islanders). Bobrovsky has been the winning goalie in each start following being pulled thus far this season. With Bob’s selection as an all-star, I have to believe he starts against Nashville and then sits against the Rangers immediately following the all-star break. If Bob is in, we most likely win – rhyme optional.

Our vets have to get going. Brandon Saad is on a cold streak that has to end (right?), Dubinsky has been strong in the faceoff circle but only possesses a 7.7% shooting percentage, and Boone Jenner has been invisible for the majority of games this season. On the young guy side of the roster, no one has emerged as dependable in the faceoff circle with both Karlsson (44.8% face off wins) and Wennberg (46% face off wins) continuing to struggle. Luckily, the predators face a similar issue with their 3rd and 4th line guys struggling to get the puck off the dot too (Ribeiro 41.2% and Sisson 48.9%).

For me, this game is less about the Predators and more about the Blue Jackets getting back to better play. Our ten game record does not accurately reflect how poorly we have been defending or that we have gone back to primarily dumpling and chasing rather than possessing into the offensive zone. This involves playing more than one period per game well. We will be a playoff team this year and we have to start gearing up for that level of play.

Worthless stat:

So far this season, Nashville wins 65% of its home games and Columbus wins 65% of its away games

Interesting stat:

The Blue Jackets currently have ZERO players that have played in 10 games or more with a negative +/-. Even lifting the 10 game criteria only two are negative (Milano -1, 2 GP and Bjorkstrand -1, 5GP).

Let’s Go Jackets!

BOF Report: 10/25 Kings (OTL 3-2)

Basically:

The story of the season thus far is how the Jackets special teams are playing so dominantly. Saad gets on the board for the first time this season and Gagner creates a goal for Atkinson (a beauty). Bobrovsky continues to look tough and was tested with some looks that easily could have been goals, especially in the first period. Transition back in overtime ended up costing us the second point, but Jones has played well thus far so we cannot hold this turnover against him too much. We take the point and move on to back to backs with San Jose and Anaheim.

The Overreaction:

I understand that Murray is hurt, I get it, and to a certain point I am used to it. But why in the holy hell do we keep putting Nutivaara and Prout on the same pairing?!? We might as well hang on sign around Bob’s neck saying “here’s your chance”.  These two haven’t been able to get the puck cleanly out of our own end yet. Is Harrington worse than this? WTF?

Final Thought:

Werenski finally had a game where he didn’t make it onto the score sheet. Even without notching a point, it is impossible not to notice him in every game. We constantly hear about developing talent, but this kid has “it” and he showed up in Columbus possessing it before we made any adjustments.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Atkinson, Saad

Assists: Foligno, Gagner, Savard, Wennberg

 

BOF Report: 10/15 Sharks (L 3-2)

Basically:

We looked frantic in the first, and for about half of the second, period(s) on the puck. Not only in our own zone, but also on offense. I like the idea of the Jackets playing fast, but being fast without control has never worked for anyone in any professional sport. We settled in towards the end of the game and had some chances that should have been converted (so did they) that could have made for different ending. Bobrovsky has looked good two games in and the great line shuffle to find cohesiveness in-game began. I don’t like that we are 0-2, but am not going all Michael Arace yet in exploring next year’s draft options.

The Overreaction:

Here we go again. Pack it in kids, eliminated from the playoffs before the end of freaking October. Our top line might not make have enough to play third line on some other clubs right now. We have to finish the easy looks. Anderson had one in the first period, Karlsson in the second. Stop thinking and put the puck in the net. Another thing. Don’t talk to me about conditioning ever again, conditioning has nothing to do with the ability to pass the puck from one Blue Jacket to another successfully. Can we also please never put Prout and Nutivaara on the same defensive pairing. That was hard to watch. Get it together!!!

Final Thought:

Bobrovsky had 35 saves for a .946 save percentage. He is doing his part, now we just need to get the offense rolling and that cannot be done if we cannot keep possession of the puck coming out of our own zone. Luckily, other than the Penguins, all other metro division teams have at least one loss or overtime loss so the hole is not as deep as it could be. Chicago comes to town on Friday, have to find a way into the win column.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Anderson, Werenski

Assists: Atkinson, Hartnell, Wennberg

Sharks swim into Nationwide

While San Jose made the Stanley Cup finals last year, they did so on a hot playoff run after finishing 3rd in the Pacific. Their power play unit is something to be feared, capitalizing on just over 20% of their opportunities last year. Their goal tending is reliable with Jones in the back and Joe Thornton apparently has found the lazarus pool and still looks just as much a force on the ice at 37 as he ever has. I think it was LeBrun that stated he projected Thornton to get another three year deal. He is the Randy Couture of hockey.

The Jackets best opportunity tonight lies in our power play as this was a glaring weakness in the Sharks game play. The scored on just over 20% of their PP opportunities and gave up just over 20% on the PK. If we stay out of the box, our chances go up exponentially.

With Ryan Murray out after blocking a shot against Boston, Dalton Prout draws in on the 3rd pairing with Nutivaara. To say this makes me nervous is an understatement. Nutivaara looked every bit like a rookie against Boston and Prout has had games in the past where he became a turnover machine in our own zone. We need this line to punch above their weight class tonight.

Let’s Go Jackets. Get on the win train tonight!