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Defending Stanley Cup Champions Visit Nationwide Tonight

by Jeff Rimer / Columbus Blue Jackets

October 30

It's a shame... a team so close yet so far away!! Our NHL neighbors to the East, who just happen to be the closest NHL teams to our great city along with Detroit, the Pittsburgh Penguins hook up with the Blue Jackets tonight in the ONLY regular season meeting between the two clubs. We should be in the same conference as our close neighbors!! - don't you think?

The defending cup champs will be minus Evgeni Malkin their top forward next to Sidney Crosby, but lets not kid ourselves they are still loaded with talent. Look for Crosby to pick up some of Malkin's minutes and Jordon Staal who always seems to be at his best against the Jackets to more than make up for the loss of Malkin.

Judging by this morning's skate it looks like the Jackets top two lines tonight will be shuffled a bit and this is where coach Hitchcock is looking for improvement. Tonight, Antoine Vermette moves to the top line and he will pivot for Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash.

Derick Brassard moves back up to line two between R.J. Umberger back at left wing and maybe the Jackets most consistent forward for the first 11 games Jake Voracek. Hitchcock this morning stated that "Jake is on the verge of becoming an elite player in the NHL."

Steve Mason starts in goal tonight. Mason is 12-1-1 against the East with a 1.12 goals against average .959 save percentage and six shutouts. Penguins back up Brent Johnson is expected to start for Pittsburgh.

Game time is 7 p.m. and if your planning on going to tonight's game and don't have your tickets yet, I'd suggest you get them now because few tickets remain and fans were lined up for the Huntington Green Seats as early as this morning.

Fox Sports Ohio's coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blue Jackets Live.

*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac", "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.

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