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Game 30 Preview: Jackets face Panthers in Columbus

The Jackets have had some time-three full days in fact-to regoup and, as I've said here many times before, right the ship. The team is coming off of two bad losses to the Leafs and Avalanche, two teams the Jackets need to beat. Tonight the Panthers come to town, and this being an out-of-conference matchup it is important to pick up these points. The Jackets have historically played well against the East, and that needs to continue this evening.

Dorsett makes his return to the lineup tonight-the team has missed his energy and forechecking badly. He brings a spark to the team that was obviously missing while he was out with a concussion. This is Murray's second game of the season, and I look for him to have a strong game. The lines have been adjusted quite significantly outside of the top line, with Umby sliding back to center with Jake and Chimmer. Chimmer has been playing very well lately, and I'm hopeful he can build on that given the chance to play with some skilled linemates.

Mase returns to the net, he simply must focus on the game and avoid letting in bad goals. The defense as a whole needs to continue to impove, and if the team continues to avoid playing the style the coaching staff is preaching, the ugly losses will continue to mount. If a team tries to play a skill game, without having the necessary skill to back it up, that's when you can kiss the season good-bye.

The Panthers have some skilled forwards and a decent defense, not to mention Vokoun is a fantastic goaltender. This will be a tough matchup, but one the Jackets can defeat. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must-win. In fact, you can say that about all of the games remaining this month. If they can go on a decent winning streak, they are right back in it.

Fearless Prediction: Victory?

Game Time: 7:00pm ET

Opponent's Blog: Litter Box Cats

Game Page: Panthers vs Blue Jackets Coverage

TV: FSN Ohio

Radio: WBNS-AM (1460); WWCD-FM (101.1)

More after the jump...

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Rule of thumb: He who forechecks, wins. The Blue Jackets have struggled against speedy forechecks this season, and they haven't established much of one lately, either. All that's left for the Panthers from three blockbuster trades (Roberto Luongo, Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester) are defensemen Keith Ballard, Jordan Leopold and Bryan Allen.

Jackets Links:

Columbus Blue Jackets / Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule

Columbus Blue Jackets Roster / Columbus Blue Jackets Stats

Here are the lineups for tonight's tilt:

Columbus Blue Jackets

Kristian Huselius
Antoine Vermette
Rick Nash
Jason Chimera
R.J. Umberger
Jakub Voracek
Andrew Murray Samuel Pahlsson
Jared Boll
Raffi Torres
Derick Brassard
Derek Dorsett

Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Mike Commodore
Jan Hejda
Kris Russell
Anton Stralman

Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

EXTRA: Mike Blunden, Mathieu Roy, Derek MacKenzie

INJURED: Fredrik Modin, Rostislav Klesla

Florida Panthers

Steven Reinprecht
Stephen Weiss
Nathan Horton
Rostislav Olesz
Dominc Moore
Michael Frolik
Shawn Matthias
Jeff Taffe
Radek Dvorak
Victor Oreskovich
Kamil Kreps
Mike Duco

Bryan McCabe
Keith Ballard
Jordan Leopold
Dennis Seidenberg
Bryan Allen
Dmitry Kulikov

Tomas Vokoun
Scott Clemmensen