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12-27-2007, 04:21 PM
Seth Lake
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Keys to tonight's game:
1) We must play from ahead.

Columbus will be in extra, double-secret shutdown mode tonight due to their injuries. They will be playing a tight defensive system and will look to stiffle any attacks by the Predators at the earliest moment only to send the puck down the ice heading into our end. If we are playing from ahead, Columbus will either be forced to open up their defensive posture or they can remain in a tight defensive scheme, but the difference will be that we will not be forcing nearly as much to try to score and therefore we will have less turnovers for the Blue Jackets to look to capitalize on.

2) Get the puck deep. Force turnovers.

Much of our success this weekend in Columbus came from the fact that we were being smart with the puck and carrying it into the zone only when we had numbers and the BJ's were giving us room. Otherwise, we dumped the puck in deep behind the Jackets defense and used an aggressive forecheck to create turnovers which we in turn converted into scoring chances. With about 10 minutes to go in the third, the Preds switched to a 1-4 trap for three shifts...we lost the lead and Columbus started carrying the play in our end. We immediately switched back to a 1-2-2 and the much of the rest of the game was spent in the Blue Jackets end and we won the game 3-1.

3) Take away Norrena's eyes. Traffic to the net.

Just like last night in Chicago, we're facing a goalie that will stop everything that he sees. In order to score on Norrena we must take away his eyes (screen the goalie) and get traffic to the net. Immediately prior to Dumont's goal this weekend, Hordichuk went hard to the net following a shot and just ever so slightly bumped Norrena. Let's get inside his head a little. Whenever a puck gets sent to the net, we need traffic crashing hard to the front to look for rebounds and redirections. Look at Lang's second goal last night...Toews was out of the play, but he saw the play developing behind him and skated right through the top of the crease, taking a defenseman with him and keeping Mason back in the paint. Lang took the shot and scored in large part due to Toews work away from the puck.

4) Body, body, body!!! Don't get caught looking down at the puck!

While Columbus might be shorthanded with Nash, Peca, Brule, Malhotra, etc out, they're still dangerous with guys like Federov, Zherdev, Vyborny, and others that are great stickhandlers and adept playmakers. We've gotten burned a lot lately by our defense backing into the zone a little too early and giving up too large of a gap. Need to stand up at the blueline and play the body when these guys are coming into the zone. Zherdev has really gotten his mojo going and has been stickhandling through defenses at will lately. This must stop tonight.

5) Special teams must be SPECIAL...

Columbus has a few top PK'ers out, but they're still very capable in that department. Guys like Federov and Chimera have tons of speed to burn and will take advantage of any miscue we have at the blueline. Our power play was clicking up until last game. Legwand had a big goal on the PP in Columbus last game and we're going to need to outscore the BJ's on special teams tonight if we want to really claim these two points. On our end, when we're on the PK, Columbus is without Nash, so look for them to try to make some quick passing plays and work a lot of give and go's on the PP. They have some guys from the point that'll rip the puck, but I think tonight if the Jackets score on the PP, we're going to see some passes through the box leading to their goals.

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