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Previewing the East: Columbus

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Ready for some hockey?

Sure you are.

The Red Wings don’t open training camp until Sept. 19 in Traverse City, but over the next eight weeks's Bill Roose will preview the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings’ Atlantic Division rivals in Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Buffalo. This week it's the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Coach: Todd Richards

Last Year: 43-32-7, 93 points (seventh in Eastern Conference)
Detroit vs. Blue Jackets:
5-on-5 Goals:
149 (eighth in Eastern Conference)
Power Play Efficiency:
54-for-280, 19.3 percent (seventh in Eastern Conference)

2013-14 Stats Vs. Red Wings
Player POS AGE rank GM G A PT. GM G A PT.
Ryan Johansen C 22 34 82 33 30 63 3 2 0 2
James Wisniewski D 30 87 75 7 44 51 3 0 3 3
Brandon Dubinsky C 28 91 76 16 34 50 3 2 1 3
Cam Atkinson RW 25 152 79 21 19 40 2 2 0 2
Artem Anisimov C 26 160 81 22 17 39 3 0 0 0
2013-14 Stats
Goalie AGE Rank GM W L OTL GAA SV%
Sergei Bobrovsky 25 11 58 32 20 5 2.38 .923
vs. Red Wings
3 1 1 0 1.72 .951

2014-15 OUTLOOK

Regular-Season Games vs. Red Wings: Nov. 18 (at CBJ); Dec. 16 (at DET); Mar. 12 (at DET).

ARRIVALS:  Forwards Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbon and Jerry D’Amigo.

DEPARTURES:  Forwards R.J. Umberger, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Jack Skille, Matt Frattin, Cody Bass and Carter Camper; defensemen Nick Schultz and Nikita Nikitin; and goalies Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The Blue Jackets made a considerable commitment to center Brandon Dubinsky, signing him to a six-year, $35.1 million contract extension, which begins with the 2015-16. He’ll make $5.85 million per season through the 2020-21 campaign. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Dubinsky earned the deal for playing at a high level especially when the game elevates in intensity. The 28-year-old two-way forward, who was part of the deal that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers, was instrumental in clamping down on Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby through their first-round series last April. In the two seasons since the Nash trade, Dubinsky has produced 18 goals and 70 points in 105 regular-season games.

SEASON SCOPE: Unlike last summer, when they snapped up Nathan Horton, signing the UFA forward to a seven-year contract, the Blue Jackets approached this year’s open market with more of a cautious eye. With the emergence of burgeoning young stars, including Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, David Savard, and the trade that landed them top-six forward Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia, the Jackets certainly seem to be on the rise. Newly acquired Brian Gibbons (UFA, Pittsburgh) and Jerry D’Amigo (trade with Toronto) will head to training camp vying for regular season roster spots as fourth-line contributors.

The Jackets are coming off a franchise-best 93-point season – their first in the Eastern Conference since NHL re-alignment – and just their second playoff berth in 13 seasons. The next step is winning a playoff series, something they haven’t done in their history. Metro Detroit native James Wisniewski is coming off a career-year when he produced seven goals and 51 points from the blue line in 75 games. Can he do it again?

Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division
Buffalo (July 24) Carolina (Aug. 7)
Boston (sep. 11) Columbus (Aug. 21)
Florida (July 29) New Jersey (Aug. 14)
Montreal (Sep. 2) NY Islanders (July 31)
Ottawa (Aug. 12) NY Rangers (Aug. 28)
Tampa Bay (Sep. 4) Philadelphia (Aug. 26)
Toronto (Aug. 5) Pittsburgh (sep. 9)
Washington (Aug. 19)

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