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Game 77 Preview: Jackets host the Lightning

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I love it when the Jackets play Eastern Conference squads. It makes me think about how much better things would be for the Jackets if they were in the Eastern Conference. Not only that, but the East has a vast majority of the league's most exciting players. Three of those players will be in Tampa's lineup tonight- Steve Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier. Granted, Vinny is having a sub-par year, but he is still one of the top forwards in the game. The top six of Tampa is very exciting- and I like the way their defense is shaping up.

Mase gets the start tonight for the Jackets, and the Bolts will likely counter with Niittymaki. Chris Clark, who was injured in the last game against the Isles is out and will be for the rest of the season. Tomas Kana, who was acquired earlier in the season from St. Louis, was called up and will make his NHL debut tonight.

Fearless Prediction: Jake Voracek scores his 50th point of the season.

Game Time: 7:00pm ET

Opponent's Blog: Raw Charge

Game Page: Lightning vs Blue Jackets coverage

TSN Preview: Lightning vs Blue Jackets preview

TV: FSN

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

More after the jump...

From the Columbus Dispatch:

The Blue Jackets are 7-2-3 in Nationwide Arena since Claude Noel took over as interim coach. With Steven Stamkos on one line and Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis on another, the Lightning can be a handful in the attack zone.

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
R.J. Umberger
Derick Brassard
Jakub Voracek
Andrew Murray
Samuel Pahlsson
Tomas Kana
Derek Dorsett
Trevor Frischmon
Michael Blunden

Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Mike Commodore
Kris Russell
Grant Clitsome
Anton Stralman

Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

EXTRA: Nathan Paetsch

INJURED/SICK: Derek MacKenzie,Chris Clark, Jared Boll, Jan Hejda, Rostislav Klesla

Tampa Bay Lightning

Martin St. Louis
Steven Stamkos
Steve Downie
Ryan Malone
Vincent Lecavalier
Alex Tanguay
Todd Fedoruk
Nate Thompson
Stephane Veilleux
Teddy Purcell
Paul Szczechura
Zenon Konopka

Mike Lundin
Mattias Ohlund
Kurtis Foster
Victor Hedman
Andrej Meszaros
Matt Walker

Antero Niittymaki
Mike Smith