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Let's Get It Started! Jackets Host Predators in Pre-Season Kickoff

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Two of the candidates to challenge for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL's rookie of the year, could be in action tonight, as the Columbus Blue Jackets open their pre-season slate of games hosting Central Division rival Nashville at 6 p.m. tonight at Nationwide Arena. To listen to the radio broadcast of the game, live via the internet, click here.

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CBJ rookie Gilbert Brule, who scored 2-2-4 in seven games with the Blue Jackets before finishing the season in the Western Hockey League where he scored 23-15-38 in just 27 games, will center the Jackets top line this evening.

Meanwhile, Nashville rookie Alexander Radulov, who dominated the QMJHL to the tune of 61-91-152 in 62 games last season, will be getting a strong look by Nashville this preseason and will join the big club this season at some point, though may start in the AHL.

The game will mark the first of two pre-season match ups between Columbus and Nashville, whom CBJ.com fans voted the Jackets biggest rival in a recent poll. The two teams will also meet eight times during the regular season as the NHL will continue its rivalry-based schedule.

Columbus went 3-5-0 vs. Nashville in 2005-06, the third year in a row that Predators have won the season series, after CBJ went 5-4-1 in the teams' first 10 meetings.

Tonight will also be CBJ fans first opportunity to see Stanley Cup winning Fredrik Modin's debut in a Blue Jackets uniform. Modin, along with goaltender Fredrik Norrena, was obtained in a trade with Tampa Bay in exchange for Marc Denis. Modin will play on the top line with Brule and Joakim Lindstrom in the opener.

"I just want them to play hard," head coach Gerard Gallant said. "It's the first game and it is only three days into camp. It would be nice if we could win all the games, that's what you play for.

"But I just want the guys to work hard and get used to their teammates."

Jason Chimera and Manny Malhotra formed a solid third line in 2005-06 with Trevor Letowski, who departed via free agency to the Tampa Bay Lightning, will team with Dan Fritsche tonight on the second line. The trio will be looking to form the cohesion that the group had last season.

On the third and fourth lines the club will have the AAA line with a pair of Alexanders in Picard and Svitov, paired with your forward Adam Pineault. The fourth line will be comprised of Andrew Murray, camp invitee Darcy Verot and Syracuse tough guy Brandon Sugden.

On the blueline, young defenseman Kris Russell will team with veteran Rostislav Klesla, while Tomas Kloucek will pair with the solid Duvie Westcott and hard-hitting Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will team with Adam McQuaid.

In the net the club plans on using Pascal Leclaire, who enters camp as the No. 1 goalie on the depth chart, with young Tomas Popperle backing him up.

While the Jackets have undergone some changes with the additions of Modin, Norrena, Anson Carter, Anders Eriksson, Svitov and handing the keys as the No. 1 goalie to Leclaire, Nashville has undergone some tweaking itself. The club added No. 1 center Jason Arnott and rookie Radulov, added to a team that finished 49-25-8 in 2005-06 losing in the first round of the playoffs. Tonight's Nashville roster.

As always, Huntington Green Seats will be available for tonight's game and every game during the 2005-06 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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