Pre-game thoughts: Defense tries to get back on track

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Pre-game thoughts:  Defense tries to get back on track

Tonight is the next chance for what once was a major strength of this team, the defense, to get back on track as they face the 3-3 Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks of course are led (literally as he's got a 'C' on his helmet) by one of the best goaltenders in the league in Roberto Luongo.

The 2-3 Jackets look to use this game as a jumpstart towards building momentum for the season. With 8 of the next 11 at home the time to make a move starts tonight.

KEYS TO LIGHTING EM UP
* Normally this starts and ends with Luongo but if the Jackets can't keep the pucks out of their own net then what's the point. The defense has got to play better that includes better outlet passes, better decisions, more physical in-your-face type hockey. The mental mistakes by Leclaire have to end.

* Now to Luongo. Like any great goaltender you have to out work him. He's given up 21 goals in 6 games so he can most certainly be beat.

* PP needs to keep on keepin on (never thought I'd say that). Believe it or not the Jackets have the 8th ranked PP thus far and on alot of occasions its looked pretty..well pretty. Huselius has done a great job transporting the puck and gaining the zone while the rookies Brassard and Voracek have really added to that 2nd unit. Umberger is a doing the dirty work in front of the net and I'd love to see him get rewarded.

* Vancouver's PP is a wreck right now (converting at 6.9% good for 29th in the NHL) which the Jackets improved-of-late PK unit needs to take advantage of.

* Never hurts to get that first goal. Always hurts to give up a multi-goal lead.

* Vancouver can score - they have 20 goals for which is good for 4th most in the conference. Jackets need to shut down the Sedins. They've got 12 points between them but haven't really had a "break out" type game. Guys like Burrows, Kesler & Berneir have been stepping up the offense as secondary scorers - got to watch them.

* Would love to see Nash convert on a break-away against Luongo but I'll take any type of goal #61 can provide.

* Canucks are a decent road team who is 2-3. They are ending a 6 game road trip tonight in Columbus so you better believe they'll want to end it on a high note and see this a very winnable game. Jackets have to show up in every facet.

* Jackets doing better staying out the box -- need that trend to continue.

GAME SPOTLIGHT
All eyes will be on the defensive play and goaltending tonight. Will the mental mistakes continue? Can this unit finally start to gel? What's up with Russell moving to a forward -- how long will that experiment last, about as long as Z at center?

CROWD CHANT
Continuing the National Anthem crowd salute as well as a salute after each goal.

In other game notes it appears Freddy Modin is out with the dreaded groin injury. What a shame to as he was finally starting to show some signs of life. Who steps up in his place? There is a chance Malhotra may be back in which should definitely help in the faceoff and PK departments.

Remember no FS Ohio tonight so its either Center Ice, the radio or heading on down to the game.

GO JACKETS!

-LTL
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