The Columbus Blue Jackets travel to our neighbor to the North for the first time since moving East tonight to take on the Montreal Canadiens. Let’s take a look at some brief Keys To the Match Up for tonight’s game:
Control Sloppy Play: Bad passes and poor puck control have led to mistakes in both zones. Montreal comes into the game with 20 goals for and are averaging 3.3 goals per game (9th best in the NHL). Sloppy play and turnovers will only give Montreal more scoring chances.
Puck Luck: How can the Jackets control “puck luck”? The idea of luck seems pretty arbitrary, and it really is. What the Jackets can do is continue to put shots on net. Right now the Jackets are ranked 25th overall with 11 goals for and are 5th for fewest goals against with 12. They have also put an 11th best 31.6 shots on goal per game. In addition, Columbus’ PDO of 982 put them at #22 in the NHL overall. Eventually, the goals will come and the Jackets just need to keep putting pucks on net.
Avoid Penalties: While there were some questionable calls in the Detroit game, the Jackets did give up one goal on a Detroit PP and one shortly after. Montreal has 7 power play goals this season, a PP% of 26.9%, which currently ranks them 7th in the NHL (Columbus is in 9th). While not absolutely lethal on the PP, Montreal has the offensive tools to make the most of PP chances. The Jackets need to control their emotions and watch the bad penalties. It was a Jared Boll hooking call that stifled the opening momentum in the Detroit game that lead to the first DET goal.
Arty Party: Artem Anisimov could be considered fashionably late at this point. Arty played a huge part in the run for the playoffs last season, but whether it is just dumb luck, has not been much of a factor on offense so far this season. Anisimov has had chances, but just hasn’t been able to bury his shots. With Calvert out, Gaborik recovering from the Flu, and a dormant offense, the Jackets need an Arty Party in Montreal tonight.
Oh Captain My Captain: If the Jackets are waiting for someone to step up and earn the C, we haven’t seen it yet. Now I don’t know what is happening behind the scenes, but last season it was Vinny Prospal who stepped up and became the de facto captain of the team. Dubinsky has shown potential, but someone needs to step up and get this team performing to its potential. I know one person cannot make every player perform, but the Jackets are starting to dig a small hole for themselves. A good leader will step up and try to stop that. If it doesn’t rally the locker room, it will at least rally the fan base. We need this season’s version of “Prospal Pointing”. That was the rallying moment for the fans last year. It was more than just funny songs and photo shops, it gave the fans something to rally behind.
Check back later for more Union and Blue game day coverage!