When the Columbus Blue Jackets take the ice tonight at 7 p.m.against San Jose, center Sergei Fedorov (check out CBJ.com's new Fedorov wallpaper) will be back in uniform for the first time in the 2006-07 season.
The Blue Jackets (2-3-1, 5 pts.) center sat out the first six games with a shoulder injury. While Fedorov might be a slightly worried about his shoulder, he nor Blue Jackets fans should be worried about his play against the Sharks (6-2-0, 12 pts.).
In his career, Fedorov has had success against San Jose, posting 20 goals and 30 assists in 48 games played. The point per game-plus average (1.04 pts/game) against the Sharks is one of 14 teams Fedorov is averaging at least one point against in his career. The 20 goals are his eighth-highest total against one team and the 30 assists is his seventh highest total against an opponent.
The Blue Jackets will need all the offensive fire power they can find against San Jose, who ranks third in the National Hockey League in goals per game with a 3.63 average. The Sharks returned the NHL’s leading scorer from 2005-06 in Joe Thornton and 50-goal scorer from a year ago, Jonathan Cheechoo. However, neither one of those players leads the Sharks in points through eight games this season, that honor belongs to ninth-year veteran Patrick Marleau.
Like a fine wine, Marleau has been better with age and has 10 points (4g-6a) in eight games this season, after posting a career-best 86-point season a year ago. Marleau has played all nine of his seasons in San Jose. Opponents still have to worry about Cheechoo, Thornton and Milan Michalek, who all have nine points on the year.
The difference maker this season for the Sharks has been on the power play unit, San Jose leads the league in power play goals with 14 and their 25.5-percent ranks third in the NHL. Columbus is 24th in penalty killing, at 77.5-percent; however this is another area where the return of Fedorov could help falsify the statistics.
The Blue Jackets enter the game on a three-game losing streak, but have the next two games at home against west coast teams. The six games played by Columbus are the fewest in the league at this point in the season and over two-thirds of the league has already played eight or more games.
San Jose is two points behind Western Conference leaders Anaheim, Dallas and Minnesota, who all have 14 points. San Jose begins a five-game road trip in Columbus, and is currently 2-1-0 away from the HP Pavilion at San Jose.
As always, Huntington Green Seats will be available for tonight's game and every game during the 2006-07 season. The Huntington Green Seats are 250 seats that are priced at $10 for every home game this season and are available only at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, two hours prior to game time. For tonight's game each person may purchase a maximum of four seats.
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