The Blue Jackets head back onto the exhibition ice tonight for the fourth time, and this time will be their first full squad roadie. The roster includes the project opening night top line of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, and Vinny Prospal, as well as top D pairing James Wisniewski and Fedor Tyutin.
Might we get a sneak peak at the full-on top PP unit, as well?
Allen York will get the start between the pipes, but with Curtis Sanford now thrust into the presumed #2 role behind Steve Mason due to injury of Mark Dekanich, one suspects Sanford will see some time as well.
Other notable forwards for the Jackets include the currently-white-hot Maksim Mayorov, in addition to Cam Atkinson and Antoine Vermette (possible line combo?). The Russell brothers will both be in the lineup as well. Anton Blomqvist looks to make his camp debut, as well, after missing time with a groin injury.
For Columbus, aside from seeing the "top line guys" again, you'd like to see the play start to tighten up. Wednesday's game probably should never have gotten to OT, what with the 3-1 lead and a significantly better-looking roster for the Jackets.
It will be interesting to see how the top line does, considering on the road the Jackets won't be able to pick which line they face quite so much. Likewise, I'll be interested to see how Mayorov continues to play on the road, since he may find himself in less favorable matchups. If the coaches are looking to see how he plays defensively, this might be a good chance.
The Jackets are going to get a face-full of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Devin Setoguchi tonight, most likely. The Wild's two big off-season acquisitions should be on full display tonight at the Xcel Center.
Josh Harding will start in goal for the Wild, and he's looked solid so far, allowing just one goal in 31 minutes the other night against Edmonton. The Wild's full lineup looks like this:
Based on that, the defense looks like it could be had. The Jackets are bringing enough scoring touch that I look for them to be able to get a few goals on the night. Special Teams will be big, as Columbus has their projected first-unit Power Play, and with only a few of those guys on Tuesday--including Wisniewski running the point--they looked very good. Can this unit put it together and make the Wild pay for penalties?
Overall, it should be a good matchup of "we made our top line better this summer!!!1!" teams, though overall (not just tonight) I like the Jackets' scoring depth better. It will be interesting to see the Tyutin--Wisniewski pairing's minutes, and to see how much they're out against that Wild top line. Finally, how will York do?
Plenty of storylines... let's hope this road game goes a little better than the last one did up in the 'Peg.