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.
Columbus is another physical team. We backed down last night far too often for my liking and Chicago took it to us both on the scoreboard and in the ice bag department. Guys like Shelley, Boll, and Chimera are going to be coming at us full-steam ahead. We need to match that physical play each and every shift.
we should have had more. zanons terrible breakout pass led to the first penalty and he got caught flat footed for the second penalty. small sample size I'm dealing with here but he's not an NHL dman in space from what I've seen in the past and this year.
and you can't get Zids out of town fast enough. some team has to want a small PP specialist who isn't appreciably better than an average dman manning the PP.
hammer played good. two bad goals by mason. bad rebound on the first and failure to cover his rear on the second. wonder how rinne is playing in the A? really were dominated in this period. luckily for us, this BJs team looks terrible. they just aren't in sync. injuries may be getting to them.
as for the reviewed goal...live it looked like there was no kicking motion. the jumbotron gave us one good angle that actually looked like a kick. who knows on that.
yup. the poor BJ pulled a Mcdonnel. what does everyone think of the 2nd Tootoo hit? thought it was a tad late.
I thought it looked good live, but the replay showed it was a little late. The refs missed alot of calls early, on both teams. I like Tootoo, but I hated him tonight...kind of guy you either love, or love to hate.
Sloppy win. You could tell both teams were tired. Somehow we let the Blue Jackets pepper alot of shots on Mason, despite the Blue Jackets missing a ton of key guys. Credit goes to them as they played a very solid road game.
Mason let in some soft goals but in the end made some pretty big saves to still keep us in it.
Koistinen had a fantastic game, sans his one bad defensive play which led to Boll all alone on Mason. Other then that, he had an awesome game. 1 goal, 2 assists, +3, 7 shots and almost 22 minutes of ice time.
Him and Zidlicky were in a groove tonight. Zidlicky had another good game (despite almost another costly defensive error). His pass to Tootoo for the game tying goal was great. I laughed at all the idiots who always yell shoot.
Klein had a pretty solid game as well. Smart, simple plays. Looked a bit rusty (hmm, wonder why).
Hamhuis had a pretty bad game in my opinion as he seemed a bit lost and failed to clear the puck out of the zone alot and gave the puck away alot in the neutral zone.
Still a somewhat disappointing game from our offensive lines, despite the 4 goals. Tootoo played a pretty good game. Tootoo has had a great year. Even though he was playing a bit of the old Tootoo game tonight, he still wasn't ridiculous like he has been in the past. For the most part this year, he hasn't been trying to murder people and has benefited from it. Edit: Watched the replay, his hit in the third was a bit later then I remember. Really lucky he didn't get a call there. That could have been a dangerous time to go on the PK. He has been much better this year about it though. Hopefully he sees this and realizes he got a bit lucky.
Overall a sloppy but well needed win. Right now, we'll take them anyway we can. We are still far from where we need to be.
Yes, Tootoo's last hit was late and I'm amazed it wasn't called. He also played a great game otherwise by using his speed and tenacity.
Koistenen's gaff on the Boll fiasco was nothing short of breathtakingly stupid... but no harm comes of it and he gets the GW so he is the hero. It's a weird game. He did play pretty well.
Klien also played pretty well although sparingly. I really don't get what's going on with him. I'll assume I'm on the outside on what the problem is but he seems very promising every time we see him.
Mason had a decent game. Actually a very good game with a couple of blown chances for a great game.
Our powerplay needs to move its feet. Our powerplay needs to shoot. Our powerplay needs Zids to watch the freakin puck when it is coming to him instead of looking up for a play only to find it bounced over his stick (for the 89th time this year). He is like the receiver that starts to run before he catches the ball and it repeats itself ever game.
That was an ugly win but it feels a lot better than an ugly loss.