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Stamkos and the Lightning Make Rare Nationwide Visit!

by Jeff Rimer / Columbus Blue Jackets

March 30

Frankly, I have been looking forward to tonight's game as we all get a look at one of the season's best stories... the emergence this season of center Steven Stamkos of the Lightning! Stamkos, who's NHL start last season was nightmare, and head coach at that time Barry Melrose felt he was better off going back to junior in Sarnia with the Sting than playing in the NHL. Of course, it in part cost Melrose his job! Rick Tocchet took over for Melrose and I have a great deal of respect for Tocchet, first as a player and now as head coach of Tampa Bay... under trying circumstances, what with all the chaos off the ice in the front office and with all their ownership issues.

Tocchet, when he became Head Coach, put the number one overall pick Stamkos on a tough off-ice program and it's paid big dividends this season. The second-year center heads into tonight's game third in NHL in goal scoring, just two back of NHL leader Sydney Crosby's 47 goals. Stamkos leads the NHL with 20 power-play goals and his 37 power-play points are second in the league!

If you have not already decided about attending tonight's game, I'd suggest you join us at Nationwide, this kid is worth the price of admission. And many people I have talked to over the last month or two think Stamkos should have been selected to play for Canada in the Olympics.

Steve Mason, coming off a solid effort against the Blackhawks in Chicago Sunday, gets the start tonight and Jackets' coach Claude Noel said after today's morning skate, "I really like Steve's game right now." Adding, "I like his intensity in the nets, his focus and his ability to follow the puck."

If you can't make it to Nationwide, we will have the game on FOX Sports Ohio in High Definition beginning with Blue Jackets Live at 6:30 p.m. Game time is 7 p.m.

*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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