Thursday, January 14, 2010

Game Preview

Blue Jackets @ Chicago Blackhawks
8:30 p.m. (EST); TV: Fox Sports Net

The CBJ need to take a page out of the Jersey Shore boys' books tonight against Chicago. And yes, they're Jackets fans.

Pepper here, stepping in for everyone's All-American, Stick on the Ice. He would normally pontificate (quite beautifully) throughout four well thought out and argued bullets about the crux of tonight's game. Judging by the picture above, I'm sure you can gather I'm not that capable so I'll give you my quick thoughts on what's going to go down in Chicago.

Prepare for the onslaught.
Looking at the Blackhawks forward lines is enough to make a fan grimace, imagine what it does to a confidence-challenged defensive core. The first line features Toews & Kane, the 'second' has a chump named Hossa, a dangerous Patrick Sharp and a heavy Andrew Ladd. Hell, the third line of Versteeg, Madden, and Big Buff could be the best in the league. Basically, the forward core is what the CBJ prays its' is in two years. Add to it a defensive core that can flat move the friggin' puck and you have a team that can come at you for 60 straight minutes.

The 'Hawks have lost their last two games and tonight is their last home game before an 8 game road trip so they see the CBJ as chum in the water and are going to look to partake in a feeding frenzy. To get two points out of this contest (and the CBJ have lost their way out of being happy with anything less than two points the rest of the way), the CBJ better have packed a supply of Hitch's 'comptetitive composure.' Weathering the storm a whole lot better than how they did in St. Louis is the only way a team with a road record of 8-14-4 has any chance to get some points from a team that's 20-5-1 at home.

Go all 'Jersey Shore' on 'em!
I was battling a little insomnia earlier this week and came across the much talked about MTV juggernaut, Jersey Shore. I had really no idea what it was about other than a lightning rod of canceled endorsements. I do now and I loved it. I'll be tuning in again, that's for sure. In the episode I caught, Ronnie (above, right) was making his way home from the bar when a fellow bar goer started an altercation. To his credit, Ronnie tried to take the high road and walk away, but when it became apparent that the other dude wasn't going to let him walk away, he tucked his 5lb gold painted cross and handled his bidness.

When thinking about the game tonight, I'm reminded of that episode. The Blackhawks are going to see the CBJ as an easy mark. After losing two in a row, the 'Hawks want to take the two points tonight and probably see the Jackets as an easy mark to take em....and not get much of a fight in return.

The CBJ has to recognize who they are, a big, strong team that can hit. The CBJ forwards have to absolutely put the wood to the Chicago defensemen at every opportunity. The forecheck needs to be established to the point where the Chicago d is looking over their shoulders and thinking more about getting out of the way of the hit than making the play with the puck. With such a fast D, easier said than done. Creating a cycle game to keep the pucks deep in the Chicago zone is a must, too.

The CBJ d needs to keep the incredibly talented Chicago forwards in front of them and to the outside. When the Chicago forwards venture into the corners, they need to be punished. If Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa and company get any room, they'll make you pay dearly.

Jackets, they're coming for you.....time to get the gel, comb up the faux hawk, tuck the chain and handle your bidness.


  1. Pepper- thanks for the post... you are dead on about the onslaught the Jackets need to be preparing for. I've never seen Jersey Shore, and likely never will... but that picture looks like it was taken at one of your family trips to Pauleys Isl.

  2. Well done -- good points made. I'm really trying to not be disturbed by the picture. I'll keep working on that. First TopShelf used the word "animus," and then Jersey Shore on our hockey blog. Variety is the spice of life, I suppose. BTW - let me be the first to predict that Juice does nothing positive tonight. He just doesn't play well against Central Division teams. I'd rather leave in Picard and have Dorsett add another dose of fire and energy. Just sayin'.