As we head into the Motor City with our band of walking wounded, it is tempting to abandon all hope. However, from this seat, I see a recipe for success, even with the ranks depleted. Keys for tonight's game:
1. Strength in our own zone -- from Mason on out, we need to disrupt Detroit's flow, get in passing lanes and not let them create space. A little rest should have recharged the batteries, and though we will miss Klesla, Methot will be itching to make an impact. No room for careless clearing passes or sloppy rebounds in the slot. Keep Holmstrom out of the blue paint!!
2. No penalties -- In St. Louis we saw what happens when we get sloppy against a good power play team. Well this team is better than the Blues, so we better stay out of the box. Plenty of hitting, but no stupid hooking or holding penalties.
3. Opportunistic Offense -- Not sure how the lines will break out, but would not be horribly surprised to see Nash, Malhotra and either Voracek or Mayorov on the top line. A skill player with puck possession ability makes a good pairing for Nash and Malhotra. The blue liners -- Commodore, Russell, Tyutin and Methot, will need to get pucks to the net. Detroit has surrendered more goals per game this season than the Jackets, so there is room to take advantage. This needs to be a 3 -1 type of game, not 6 -5.
On the rumor/trade front, Puck-Rakers reports that ownership has given Howson the green light to increase the payroll to bring some new talent in the door. Primary trading partners still are viewed as Toronto (Kubina, Antropov), Ottawa (Vermette most likely), Pittsburgh (Staal), or some combination. Others have been mentioned, but these seem the most likely, given what Howson is likely to be willing to pay.
I have been touting the Kubina/Antropov deal for awhile, but the prospect of Staal is very intriguing for a lot of reasons. Puck-Rakers describes the situation as follows:
The Blue Jackets would love to get Jordan Staal from the Penguins. And Staal might like to get away from the Penguins, if only because of coach Michel Therien. The two do not get along. But the Pens won't part with Staal for a second-round draft pick. They want a scoring winger, which is something the Blue Jackets can't part with.
First, I think Columbus would be of interest to Staal. It is only three hours away from where he is now, so his disruption is minimal. Bluejackets are a young, dynamic team, and right now are within 1 game of the same record as Pittsburgh. Staal could come here and be a star, not live in the shadow of Crosby/Malkin. We could easily put together a package of Mayorov and draft picks, which would have to be intriguing to Pittsburgh. Then, turn around, take some draft picks, or maybe a Sestito, and get Kubina, who still has a yar left on his contract.
Finally, congratulations to Nikita Filatov for another great World Juniors tournament. Somewhat surprised not to see him in Detroit tonight, but I have a hunch we will see him in Washington if a deal is not done before then.
Update for tonight: Novotny to IR, Tollefson activated, Torres skates with no pain, Chimera had a twinge and will likely be out awhile longer.
Fascinating stuff. More will be revealed . . . Your thoughts?