After being isolated from any live hockey for two weeks, and only one highlight, the World Junior Gold medal game, it sure will be nice to see an epic battle tonight for the chance to draft Taylor Hall.
The Blue Jackets have three wins in their last 24 games, and they have given up six or more goals eight times this season. Steve Mason has struggled mightily, with a 3.31 GAA and an ugly .890 SV%, while Jeff Deslauriers’ numbers are going in the wrong direction as well, 2.95 GAA and a .903 SV%, so he will rest tonight and Devan Dubnyk will get his second career start.
Dubynk can only improve on his first start, when he surrendered seven goals, and he is excited about getting back in. He played two games in Sprinfield this past weekend and he felt good about his game. He told me he wants to focus on not playing as deep in his net as he did in his last start. Henrik Lundquist is the only goalie who plays well deep in his net, and Dubynk knows he has to be more aggressive tonight.
The Oilers are comfortably in the bottom five, but now the fans want more than just the bottom five; they want to be the worst. It doesn’t sound like the cavalry is coming so that dream is very much alive, but it might take a hit tonight.
The Blue Jackets have been horrendous for two months and Mason is playing like he has mono again. The Oilers will really need to stink it up tonight to stay 29th.
Ken Hitchcock prides himself on coaching solid team defense, but the Jackets have given up the second most goals, 150, in the league and he isn’t happy about it. I doubt Scott Howson wants to get rid of his coach, but if the Jackets continue to struggle Hitchcock will be in trouble.
Lubomir Visnovsky skated today, but he was put through the paces after practice, so he won’t go tonight. The pairings will be Souray/Gilbert, Smid/Staios and Grebeshkov/Strudwick.
Potulny making the most of his opportunity
While many forwards have struggled this year, Ryan Potulny has made the most of his opportunity. He is playing on both special teams and lately he has been in the top four forwards in ice time. Potulny has five goals and three assists in his last seventeen games, and he has scored some “goal scorers” goals.
I was one who thought Potulny would be a regular on this team, nevermind a guy who plays 16-20 minutes a night. While the DFF or the Fall for Hall is on, a player like Potulny is playing to make a name for himself.
He is a prime example of why the DFF is so difficult to achieve because there will always be some players who are playing for a roster spot, and in some cases their career. Potulny has earned the trust of Quinn and if he continues to play well and improve, he could go into training camp next season as a guy whose name the coaches have written in pen rather than pencil or a with a question mark.
If any of you are planning on taking a holiday anytime soon, I highly recommend Costa Rica, and specifically Tamarindo. The weather is outstanding, the beaches are white, brown and in some cases black. Surfing is awesome and the scenery on the beach and in the countryside is breath taking.
I’d recommend you take the tour at Rincon de la Vieja. The white water tubing and zip line were top-notch. If you go around Christmas or New Years make sure you go to one of the Fiestas in the small town. Watching the bull-riding; seeing average guys stay in the ring to play bullfighter is great entertainment. I spent an hour in the ring and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Luckily I never came close to getting trampled, but I did see a few guys get the horns/stomped.
It is a beautiful country and the people were very proud and hospitable. Tamarindo is a five-star holiday destination in my books.