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At the Rink: Rangers at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- For the first time since the 2011-12 season the Columbus Blue Jackets will take to the ice with a player wearing the 'C.'

New captain, Nick Foligno, and the last player to be captain of the Blue Jackets, Rick Nash, will be in Nationwide Arena on Friday when Columbus open their season against the New York Rangers.

"That's just the way the schedule worked out," Foligno said. "I'm not thinking about that. I'm looking forward to playing a real good team."

Nash captained Columbus from 2008-2012 until being traded to the Rangers (1-0-0) on July 23, 2012, and the title had been vacant until May 20 when Foligno, 27, was chosen by management.

"It's a huge honor," Foligno said.

Columbus coach Todd Richards on Thursday announced that centers Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner will serve as alternate captains.

Dubinsky came to Columbus in the Nash trade and, although several years have passed, there is still a lot of emotion when the Blue Jackets play the Rangers.

"This has turned into a little bit of a heated rivalry," Richards said. "At least that's how I look at it, maybe they don't."

The Blue Jackets also play at New York on Saturday in the Rangers' home opener.

"It's a great test for us," Richards said. "I know they haven't won a Stanley Cup, but I look at them as consistently, probably the best team the last two years."

The Rangers are where the Blue Jackets strive to be. Columbus was battered by injuries last season and failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs but had a 15-1-1 record to end the season.

With the core group tied to long-term deals and the June 20 deal for two-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets hope to be a contender in the Metropolitan Division.

"It's good that upstairs likes what we have in the room," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said. "If we're not doing our job, things might change. This is the best chance to really show what we have with this group of guys.

Foligno, who also arrived in Columbus in a 2012 trade with the Ottawa Senators, senses the Blue Jackets are ready for a breakout season.

"I'm excited about this team and where we're headed," he said. "It almost feels like a new era. We're a team that believes we can be good. Now we have to go out and prove it."

Here are the projected lineups


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Kevin Hayes

J.T. Miller - Oscar Lindberg - Viktor Stalberg

Dominic Moore - Jarret Stoll - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Tanner Glass, Dylan McIlrath, Emerson Etem

Injured: none


Brandon Saad - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Rene Bourque

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert - Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Kevin Connauton - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Cody Goloubef, William Karlsson

Injured: David Clarkson (lower body)

Status Report: Lundquist is also scheduled to play Saturday which would give him three starts in four days. He made 32 saves in a 3-2 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday to open the season. … Richards did not name a starting goalie for Saturday and said Clarkson is day-to-day. It's unknown if he will be available Saturday and at the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

Who's Hot: Columbus ended last season on a 13-game point streak (12-0-1). Its last regulation loss was 3-2 to Carolina on March 15. … The Rangers scored three first-period goals against the Blackhawks and Miller assisted on the first two. … Stepan had two goals and five assists against the Blue Jackets last season.

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