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Pregame Notes v. Columbus Blue Jackets

Posted By Michael Watts On Dec 4 2010 @ 12:39 am In Pittsburgh Penguins | No Comments

Had a chance to catch the Blue Jackets and Sabres game tonight.   There is truly no reason the Pens should not extend their winning streak another game tomorrow at Nationwide Arena.  The Jackets, while having a very good season overall, looked awful against Buffalo.   A few thoughts about the Jackets v. Sabres game.

-The Blue Jackets gave up three PP goals tonight after playing solid special teams in recent games.  This was a rough night for the PK unit.  The PP unit appeared lost at times.  They never set up the passing lanes that make a power play like the Penguin’s effective.  They would rush down the ice, and then turn the puck over.  This probably explains their less than 10% conversion rate (28th in the NHL, worst in the West).

-Not a high scoring team so far this year, falling to 21st in the league.  Steve Mason is coming around, and my money is on seeing the Franchise tomorrow over Mathieu Garon, who saw 37 shots tonight.  Garon has been hot so far, though, with a 6-2-0 record and a a 1.70 GAA (with tonight’s five goals included).  Mason is beginning to come around, but he is no where near the goaltender he was 2 years ago.

-Even with Garon’s hot the start, the Jackets are showing the same patience with Mason as the Pens did with Fluery during Johnson’s hot streak.  They are hoping that he can begin to come around, and a .912 save percentage is not that bad.  Even in his rookie season, in which he had TEN shutouts, he had a GAA of 2.29 and a save percentage of only .916.  Mason has 16 starts this year, while Garon has 8.  Mason is 1-0-1 for his career against the Pens, allowing six goals in two games including a shootout loss at Nationwide last season.

-Offense has some work to do.  Nash is a great piece as the captain has proven year in and year out that he can score.  The problem is, their leading two scorers are wingers (Umberger with 19 and Nash with 18).  The Pens will center their lines with their best scorers (Crosby, Malkin, Staal when healthy) to get the scoring they want in the middle of the ice.  For the Jackets this year their centers are Brassard – 18 points, Vermette – 14 points, Wilson – 9 points, Phalson – 6 points, and Mackenzie – 5 points.

-The Jackets have 29 points this season with a record of 14-9-1.  This would be a good team to come out hard against after defeating a team like the NY Rangers.  This streak hasn’t be against the best teams in the league (having played Florida and Ottawa recently), but wins against the Blue Jackets and the NY Rangers (as well as an OT loss) certainly look good.

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