Monday, November 16, 2009

Four Lines Deep - 11/16/09

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Edmonton Oilers - Nationwide Arena
7 p.m. (EST); Fox Sports Ohio (HD)

Former Jackets first-round pick, Gilbert Brule, has 10 points for the Oilers and is averaging 13 minutes per game.

Edmonton has been forced to deal with a steady stream of notable injuries throughout the season -- to players such as Sheldon Souray--and they need greater leadership from those still standing. They certainly have talent on the roster -- they've just struggled to gain some consistency and momentum over the last month. As such, The Oil is not a strong road team (2-7-1). They've lost 6 of their last 7 heading into tonight's game against the Jackets.

However, a rash of injuries didn't stop them from making a big comeback against the Jackets and winning 6-4 when they last met in Rexall. One of the architects of that comeback win was Dustin Penner, and he is having a strong start. He is the top scorer on the team (12 g/11 a) and he roasted Columbus with 2 goals and 3 assists when they faced each other in October.  He is "hot" right now, scoring 20 points in his last 16 games. This represents a big shift from a year ago, when then-GM MacTavish publicly called out Penner for his lack of effort and consistency in the Edmonton Journal

First Line: Make a statement.  The Jackets blew a big lead against the Oilers the last time they played. They squandered points and it set the tone for the disastrous road slide.  The Oilers are playing a back-to-back after playing Atlanta on Sunday afternoon and this is the last game on a five-game road trip. Even with the benefit of three days fo rest, they blew a lead against a tired Atlanta team and lost in the southern library known as Phillips Arena. This team will be ready and primed to give the Jackets two points - they are 0-2 for the second game of back-to-backs this year. The Jackets have to come checking hard out of the gate and do their best to sustain an aggressive style of play for 60 minutes.

Second Line: Stay out of the box. Sheldon Souray came back into the lineup last night and logged 6 minutes on the power play. He also logged 25 minutes in total ice time-- wow. He must be back in shape. Obviously, he's a weapon on a power play that was already quite good -- 22.4% and fourth best in the conference --without him in the lineup. And despite some recent bright spots, the Jackets are only a dim shadow of their former selves on the penalty kill. Hopefully, this will improve as Commie rounds back into game shape, but the Jackets can ill afford to spend too much time in the sin bin against Edmonton.

Third Line:  Continue to tighten up the D. This means you Tyutin and Stralman. "Toots" has - by his own admission - had an inconsistent start to the season. There was a timely article by the Dispatch about this, and it made a lot of pertinent points. The Jackets have had to lean on Tyutin with injuries to Commie and Hejda, and he really hasn't delivered with enough consistency. With a -7, he  and his partner Stralman have been featured on plenty of opponent goal replays after blown coverages or defensive zone turnovers. They played great on Friday against Anaheim, and hopefully can build upon that momentum. One would think that they've been playing long enough now to start having some chemistry and optimizing their communication -- we should see another strong game from them tonight.

Fourth Line: Contain Penner.  The Oilers really depend upon Penner to initiate goal scoring right now, and are fairly one-dimensional in that regard. Penner is the only Oiler in the lineup with more than 5 goals. He scored against Atlanta yesterday to continue his torrid scoring pace. With the return of Horcoff and Souray from the injury report, the offensive capabilities of the team should improve and the Jackets need to be mindful of that. As mentioned above, Penner blasted the Jackets with 5 points in the last meeting and he needs to be shutdown. He's big and great off the half-wall, so it will really fall to the forwards to slow him down through the neutral zone and for the Jacket's d-men to put a body on him at all times.

No comments:

Post a Comment