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Blue Jackets Links

Game #49: Blue Jackets vs. UNSTOPPABLE BEASTS! (Sabres)

Friday, January 26, 2007
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Record: 18-25-5
At home: 10-10-3
Last 10: 4-5-1
Bloggers and local media:
Death Cab for Woody
End of the Bench
The Jacket Times
Jackets brace for lethal Sabres - Columbus Dispatch (Portzline)

Do I really need to start writing about the Blue Jackets again? Sigh ... I guess so, huh? After all, this is a Blue Jackets' blog, not a "Lambaste the NHL/Constructively critique the All-Star Game" blog, isn't it?

In a sense, the season almost feels like it's starting over for the Blue Jackets right now, with the one week break that the team has had since a 3-1 win over the hated Red Wings. The Jackets showed a good bit of moxy in that game, especially when they bent yet didn't break against a Wings team looking to crush the CBJ in that third period. Were it not for Fredrik Norrena standing immensely strong, and the defense doing everything it could to cut down on more dangerous shot angles and the like, the game could have turned real bad, real quick.

Rick Nash, who had a strong presentation of his skills at the All-Star Game, should be watched closely tonight. See if he is able to take some of that offensive touch he found at the ASG, and bring it back to games that really do matter this season. It will also be interesting to see how the rest of the team will respond after a week's rest.

Other players of note are Ron Hainsey, who will be returning to the line-up tonight after getting some ample time to rest an injured shoulder. Suspiciously absent from Portzline's coverage of team injuries, however, is anything on Duvie Westcott, who has now been out since 20 days ago with a concussion. Michael Arace mentioned in an article on Monday that Westcott will "eventually" be back, and I took note of the fact that his name came after Pascal Leclaire's, who isn't expected back until at least the start of February.

Team: Buffalo Sabres
Record: 33-12-4
On the road: 17-5-2
Last 10: 4-5-1
Bloggers and local media:
Sabre Rattling
Sabres vote down balancing act - Buffalo News


Although Buffalo sort of staggered in to the All-Star Break with 4 losses in their last 6 games, they're still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, leading the #2 seed -- New Jersey -- by 7 points in the standings. Buffalo has always been touted as one of the teams that has plenty of players that buy in to the team mentality, something which Blue Jackets fans are probably alien to understanding when they see the CBJ aimlessly play their games more often than not. With a tactician like Lindy Ruff, it's no surprise that they're so damn good.

The Sabres also had the largest contingency of All-Stars representing the Eastern Conference at three players, or at the least the most players voted on to the starting roster prior to the complete roster filling by coaches of each conference. Daniel Briere, who won the ASG MVP Award (over runner-up Rick Nash), is always a constant threat, having gotten at least one point in 8 of his last 10 games. Ryan Miller is most likely tonight's goaltender for the Sabres, and he also made the ASG starting roster due to his strong play this season. While he hasn't been the most dominant starting goalie in the league, he's still been money for the Sabres, with a strong .915 save percentage.

So what is the Sabres' weakness? Believe it or not, the Blue Jackets actually out rank the high-powered Sabres in both power play and penalty kill ranking, which are 24th and 20th in the league, respectively (compared to 23rd and 13th). The fact that their power play ranks so low is absolutely shocking, when you consider that they rank #1 in goals this season, a whole 13 more goals than #2 Nashville.

In other words ... don't do stupid stuff with the puck on the power play (which the Jackets are notorious for by simply not shooting the puck), and just stay strong on the penalty kill.

As always, if you're at the game, look for me probably at Sections 209, 211, or 219. My co-worker I am usually with has left for the school semester, however, so I may or may not be relocated. Here's hoping I'm not!

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  • At 8:30 PM, Blogger DCThrowback said…

    Great write up...enjoy the game tonight...the atmosphere sounds great, even on FSN.

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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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