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Interesting Lineup Decisions Looming


With the exception of center Andrew Murray, it's all hands on deck for the Blue Jackets this week. The Jackets haven't been this healthy since October, when the team was the talk of the NHL with their strong start.

Freddy Modin is back, along with Curtis Glencross and Ole Tollefsen. With 15 healthy forwards currently active, some lineup decisions need to be made. It's been public knowledge for a while now that Coach Hitchcock wants Nash and Modin to play together. Their size and strength along the boards would make for a tough matchup if you were the opponent. Jiri Novotny, probably the hardest working Jacket at this point, has developed chemistry with Nik Zherdev. Actually, i think it's more of a case of Novo giving Z more room to operate in the offensive zone. The speed line of Chimera-Malhotra and Fritsche has undeniable chemistry. Jared Boll is the best thing to happen to a Columbus Blue Jacket fourth line in years.

That said, that creates this scenario on the lineup card:

Nash - XXXX - Modin
XXXX - Novotny - Zherdev
Chimera - Malhotra - Fritsche
XXXX - XXXX - Boll

Here's who is left: Fedorov, Vyborny, Brassard, Lindstrom, Glencross, Peca and Shelley.

I think it's safe to say that Shelley will be seeing some time in the pressbox. Fedorov has been one of the most consistent forwards of late, and can really play with anybody. Glencross was a healthy scratch for a couple of games before his injury, so let's assume that he will be joining Shelley in streetclothes, like at the beginning of the season. Let's slide these guys into the lineup, with a slight change to the second line:

Nash - XXXX - Modin
Novotny - Fedorov - Zherdev
Chimera - Malhotra - Fritsche
XXXX - XXXX - Boll

EXTRA: Shelley, Glencross.

Here's where we are at: Three spots, four players deserving of ice time. Peca, Brassard, Vyborny and Lindstrom. I think the easiest thing to do is send Joakim back to Syracuse. He filled in admirably for the injured guys, but is waiver exempt. Brassard will probably stick to 4C, where Hitch has had him since his call up. Now, I am going to fill in the rest of the lineup:

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

EXTRA: Shelley, Glencross

At first glance, I'm not a fan of that lineup. However, it seems the most logical. That said, it probably won't be anything like what we'll see tomorrow night against Vancouver. Another thing, Vybes on the fourth line? His production has been minimal, sure, but it hurts to see the franchise leader in points playing minimal minutes. Peca played well with Nash on the top line earlier in the season, but I'd rather see him down a couple of lines.

This is just my guess on how things will turn out, I guess we'll see tomorrow night if I am on the mark!

Mike