by John Carlisle, bluejackets.com
For years in the NHL, no team ever looked forward to playing the perennially powerful Detroit Red Wings, but because of crazy scheduling, the Columbus Blue Jackets are probably happy to see their rivals from the state up north coming into town Friday.
That’s no disrespect to Detroit, who has won five straight, sits firmly in second place in the Central Division of the Western Conference and is poised for another playoff appearance. But the Jackets are coming off a week where they suffered three tough losses to the Nashville Predators, and quite frankly, the CBJ are all “Nashvilled” out.
The Jackets (17-25-5) welcome Detroit (30-12-5) for a 7 p.m. faceoff at Nationwide 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. The game will also be broadcast live on the Blue Jackets Radio Network and flagship stations WBNS-AM Sports Radio 1460 The Fan and WWCD-FM, CD101.
Friday marks the Red Wings’ third trip to Columbus this season. In mid-December the Jackets treated the fans to perhaps the best home win of the season by besting the Wings 4-3. Forward Sergei Fedorov, who recently has returned to the CBJ lineup, scored two goals against his former team that night, and for the season he’s a solid 2-2-4 against Detroit. Fedorov and forward David Vyborny assisted All-Star forward Rick Nash on a highlight-reel goal that brought the crowd to its feet.
Nash will suit up for his first game in front of the home crowd after a stint on injured reserve. The all-star has recorded 8-11-19 in 18 games at Nationwide this year.
Other members of the CBJ who have returned from injury include defenseman and team captain Adam Foote as well as forward Jody Shelley.
The Red Wings will look to bury the Blue Jackets like Detroit has done to others recently, outscoring opponents 22-10 over a five-game win streak. They feature an offense led by forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who have a combined 85 points. Columbus, 1-3 against the Wings this year, will need to score early and often on the Wings’ goaltender, who will be either Dominik Hasek or Chris Osgood. Both Hasek and Osgood have stood in the Nationwide Arena creases this year, and the Jackets have tallied a combined eight goals against them.
After a night off Thursday, goaltender Fredrik Norrena is likely to get the start in net for the CBJ. He filled in well as the No. 1 goalie during Pascal Leclaire’s time on IR. The 32-year-old rookie Norrena enters Friday’s game with solid statistics, 10-12-2 with a 3.19 GAA.
As Friday marks the last CBJ game before the All-Star break, a win over a divisional foe and one of hockey’s best teams would send the Jackets into the mid-season respite with a good taste in their mouths.
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 priced at $10 for every home game and are available only at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office two hours before game time.