Monday, December 14, 2009

Four Lines Deep 12/14/09

Nashville (18-11-3) @ Columbus (14-12-6)
Nationwide Arena
7:00 pm EST
TV: FS Ohio (HD!)

Well, well, guess who it is. Darth Vader and his merry band of Storm Troopers. Anyone else getting tired of this metaphor? If we would beat them once in a while it would disappear. Until then.... Anywho, as for the game itself, the Preds are skating in to town riding a 3-1-1 streak in their last 5 games including a shootout win over the Jackets last Thursday. The Jackets, meanwhile, are owners of a 1-3-1 record over the same span. As for the standings, the Predators sit 7th in the West, 5 points ahead of the Jackets who are 12th.

FIRST LINE: Let's Mix Things Up. Hitch made a special point after the last game to call out the top line for not competing at a level high enough to be effective, much less be a game changer. Specifically, he noted that Nash has "looked tired." Expect to see this line broken up tonight as I think Hitch has had it with these guys and he sees an opportunity to make a statement to the whole team. No reports from the morning skate to back this up, but my guess is Huselius finds his way to the second or third line tonight. Pure speculation.

SECOND LINE: Well Isn't That Special? The Jackets still sit, amazingly, 4th (23%) in the league in PP percentage. The Predators Penalty Kill is ranked 24th (78.4%) in the League. If/when the Jackets get the opportunity they have to capitalize with the man advantage. That 5-3 against the Ducks on Saturday was brutal to watch (50+ seconds, 2 shots).

THIRD LINE: Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive. Nashville bruiser Jordan Tootoo is out 6-8 weeks with a broken foot (courtesy of a Shea Weber slapshot). With him out of the lineup, the Jackets would serve themselves well to take advantage of this situation to impose some physicality upon the Preds. Not that they ever should not be physical, but the lack of a skilled fighter on the other bench should lend itself to throwing the body checks with a little more gusto. After all, this is how opponents approach the Jackets on most nights.

FOURTH LINE: Another Game, Another New Lineup. With Modin playing in his second game of the season and Dorsett out with a broken hand, the Jackets will ice yet another lineup that is a first for the season. Freddy played better than anyone would have anticipated in his first game. It was noted going into that game that Hitch figured to use him 8-10 minutes. With the lines being shuffled due to Dorsett leaving the game, Freddy took 17 shifts for 12:16 of ice time including :51 on the PK. He was strong on the boards, played in traffic and didn't take a shift off. If the room is looking for a veteran leader, they just found one. Here's hoping the Big Swede can inspire some of the younger players to compete at a higher level... including the Captain.

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