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Another Test on West Coast Trip

It's only been four days since the last Blue Jackets game and I feel like it's been forever since they last played. I always feel this way between games, even when we were not playing well or during some losing streaks over the past couple of years. With the team winning and the way they have been playing so far it has made these in between days excruciatingly long.

Now it's game night and the team gets another test in this young season, the dreaded "West Coast Trip." Put into perspective it's two games that happen to be in a different time zone, something the Blue Jackets have been through many times. But this trip is significant in that the team is heading west in a different position from the past. The Blue Jackets have 13 points and are in second place in the Central Division. Playing well and getting some points on this trip will go a long way to keeping the confidence level high. The test comes with playing against two teams that play a totally different style of game.



Tonights game is against the high flying LA Kings who finished 5 points behind the Jackets in the standings last season. They have solid and talented players such as Anze Kopitar, Mike Cammalleri, Alexander Frolov, Dustin Brown and Lubomir Visnovsky. The Kings were also very aggressive in the free agent market this offseason with the signings of Michal Handzus, Kyle Calder, Ladislav Nagy, Brad Stuart and Tom Preissing. Goaltender Jason LaBarbera has been solid over the past week or so and seems to be gaining confidence with every game. I wouldn't put the Kings quite in the same class as the Detroit Red Wings or even the Buffalo Sabres but they rely heavily on creating offense and scoring. It will be interesting to see if the Jackets can limit the Kings scoring chances while creating chances of their own against the Kings - less than stellar - defensive corps.


Tomorrow the Jackets play the Anaheim Ducks in a rematch of the season opener which the Jackets won 4-0. Anaheim is a much different team than the Kings in that they rely heavily on a physical, defensive game and create scoring chances off of that aggressiveness. The Ducks also did something no other team did last season, win the Stanley Cup. The Jackets are playing a similar game to the Ducks right now. Although the Ducks are without veterans Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne due to retirement they still have stars Chris Pronger, Ryan Getzlaf and the return of Mathieu Schneider from injury. The Ducks haven't got off to a great start and may have a little Cup hangover but they remain a formidable opponent that will be out to revenge the early season loss to the CBJ.

Fredrik Modin will be back in the lineup tonight and for the first time this season the Jackets will be at full strength. Modin will replace Nikolai Zherdev on the first line as Ken Hitchcock is looking to level off the lines hoping for secondary scoring. Hitch stated on his coaches show today that Rick Nash is going to play right wing. Hitch will see how it goes throughout the game tonight and adjust accordingly. By the way, I love the look of the lines.

Modin-Peca-Nash
Brule-Fedorov-Boll
Zherdev-Novotny-Vyborny
Chimera-Malhotra-Fritsche

With Modin back in the lineup I have never seen a Blue Jackets team with as much depth as they have this season. Are you kidding me, that's our fourth line?

Are you ready for some late night hockey? I am.