by John Carlisle, bluejackets.com
Many Ohio sports fans may not care much for the whole state of Michigan (to soften the adage), but the Blue Jackets have their minds set on stealing a win in Motown.
Though the college football showdown of epic proportions between Ohio State and Michigan may be a couple of weeks away, the Jackets (4-6-1) head to “the state up north” Saturday to battle the Detroit Red Wings (8-4-1) at 7 p.m. in famed Joe Louis Arena. Live coverage on FSN Ohio begins with IceBreaker, the pre-game show, at 6:30 p.m. and includes the Blue Jackets Ice Cap post-game show immediately following the game.
Columbus will ride the momentum of its heart-stopping shootout win Friday over Calgary. The Jackets and the Flames played to a 4-4 draw at the end of overtime and it took 11 rounds of shooters before center Manny Malhotra put the game-winner past Calgary goaltender Jamie McLennan. Right wing David Vyborny led the offensive attack with two goals, while center Sergei Fedorov and defenseman Duvie Westcott also added goals. Defenseman Anders Eriksson dished out two assists.
Fedorov will skate once again in the town where he became a hockey household name. Spending 13 seasons with Detroit, Fedorov won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and also won the adoration of the Detroit hockey diehards. Fourth all-time in career points for Detroit, Fedorov won the Hart Trophy in 1994. Saturday will mark his 493rd regular-season game at Joe Louis Arena where he has scored 222-303-525 with 262 PIM.
Eriksson has some history with Detroit, as well. He played the better part of three full seasons there in the mid-90s, winning his only Stanley Cup.
The CBJ can cut into their eight-point hole in the Central Division standings as the Red Wings’ 17 points are tops with Nashville. Detroit has won five straight, riding outstanding goaltending and relentless defense. The goaltending tandem of veterans Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood has a combined 657 career wins, 329 and 328 respectively. Over the five-game winning streak, Detroit has allowed only nine goals.
Additionally, the Red Wings boast a championship-tested blue line featuring Chris Chelios and Niklas Lidstrom.
The Jackets, by contrast, may be starting to find their offense. Over the past two games, they have scored seven goals but, perhaps more importantly, have amassed 81 shots on goal, a definite sign of improvement. Likewise, the CBJ went 4-of-9 on the power play against the Flames, by far a season-best.
Though Columbus has not fared well against Detroit, posting a 5-17-7 lifetime record, last year’s series provided some memorable moments. Of the eight games, three were decided in shootouts, all of which were in Detroit. Rick Nash posted his first career hat trick Apr. 7 in a 6-5 shootout loss, and in late March, the Jackets rallied from a three-goal deficit to force overtime and a shootout, in which they prevailed.