Gut Check Time/Monday Miscellany
Brassard Surgery–As reported on Puck-Rakers, Brassard is likely headed to surgery, after MRI results showed more significant damage than hoped, and in a bad location in terms of recurrence. Hate to see it, but let’s get him fixed up right so that he has lots of years in front of him. The young man is too valuable to risk long term injury for a quick fix now.
Anybody See A Center?? With Brass down, we lose our number 2 point man on the team, and a lot of energy and playmaking. Combined with Chimera, Murray and Torres being out, and Filatov out for the World Juniors, we need to suck it up and play over our heads for the next two at home and the ensuing road trip. Defense will need to be tighter than ever, and Mason needs to stay at his 2 GPG clip. Russell and Tyutin will need to move the puck up and anchor the point on the PP, and Modin, Peca, Malhotra will have to step up to provide some goals. Not easy, but this team has showed some toughness and resliency. We will need it now to stay in the race.
Very Much A Race — Make no mistake about it, the Western Conference playoff race will be a dogfight all the way to the wire. I’ll post projection numbers tomorrow, but with everbody beating everybody, the injury bug starting to bite a number of teams, and many having goaltending struggles, teams just need to avoid those 5 and 6 game losing streaks, which could prove fatal. Similarly, any substantial winning streak is going to pay huge dividends this year.
LA Outlook – The Kings were no doubt thrilled to arrive in Columbus and be greeted by 5 degree weather, which is even colder than their goaltending has been. After LaBarbera had a great game against us, they have been in somewhat of a quandry in the net. They started this road trip with a 5 – 0 shutout at the hands of the Sabres (though they did get 40 shots on Ryan Miller). LaBarbera (0-2-2 in his last four starts) was pulled, and the untested Jonathan Quick replaced him, surrendering 1 goal on 8 shots. Quick started in a 6 – 4 loss to the Red Wings, giving up 5 goals in 35 shots faced.
LA is only 3 – 8 on the road this year, and is looking to head home for the holidays. We need to be wary of their offense, as they posted 40 shots against Buffalo, and netted 4 against Detroit, but we have shown the ability to shut people down, particularly at home. We need to jump on them quickly in the offensive end, and put some serious rubber on net against whoever they throw in there. If we can get them down early, it may be tough for them to regroup, being the last game of the road trip, on the way home for the holidays, etc.
More tomorrow. Go Jackets!!!