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Jackets still searching for first win against Canucks

by David Kalan
CANUCKS (0-0-1) at BLUE JACKETS (0-2-0)


Season series: This is the first meeting of the season between Vancouver and Columbus. The Canucks made a clean sweep of the Jackets in 2010-11, taking all four meetings between the two teams.

Big Story: As Vancouver opens up its first road trip of the 2011-12 season, the Canucks and the Jackets will both be looking to get off the schnide and put their first notch in the win column for the season.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Fresh off a season in which the Canucks took home the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy, Vancouver might have hoped for a better start than it got Thursday night. In a potential Stanley Cup Final preview, the Canucks fell to Pittsburgh 4-3 in a shootout after lifting their Western Conference Championship banner at Rogers Arena. If Vancouver should see Pittsburgh again this June it can take solace in that the playoffs have no shootouts, but the Canucks will have to get their first, and it's a long road ahead that started on Thursday and continues Monday in Columbus.

Monday's visit to Ohio is the first stop on a four-game swin for the Canucks that will also take them to Philadelphia and Detroit before finishing in division-rival Edmonton. With most of the roster returning from last season's 117-point squad expectations are high that Vancouver will be in the mix for the West's top seed once again. A strong start to the Canucks' first road trip of the year would be a good sign that they're headed there.

Blue Jackets: Many teams made big changes this offseason, but few were as unexpectedly aggressive as Columbus, which brought in sniper Jeff Carter in a trade with Philadelphia and made a free agent splash by laying out big money for defenseman James Wisniewski. The Jackets won't get to see Wisniewski on the blue line until Oct. 25 as the result of a suspension, but Carter has already been an impressive investment, leading the team with three points after his first two games as a Jacket.

Columbus GM Scott Howson is banking on the tandom of Carter and captain Rick Nash continuing to produce on that order all season in hopes of bringing the Jackets to their second postseason appearance in history, but the team as a whole can make a big early-season statement by taking too points from an elite team like Vancouver.

Who's Hot: Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal both have a goal and an assist in the season's first two games. ... The more things change, the more they stay the same as Daniel and Henrik Sedin already lead Vancouver in scoring after one game with two points apiece.

Injury Report: The Canucks will still be without forward Ryan Kesler, who is on injured reserve following offseason surgery on his left hip.

Stat Pack: Kesler, an Ohio State grad, might not be the only Canuck who likes it in Columbus. Vancouver hasn't lost in the Buckeye State since Dec. 1, 2008, nearly three years ago.

Puck Drop: The second or third game of the season is far too early to make dramatic predictions one way or the other, but as Columbus looks for its first win with its revamped lineup, the Jackets have a huge opportunity to make the rest of the League take notice as they face the Canucks.

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