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Game 70 Preview: A Wing and a Prayer

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On the heels of a heartbreaking shootout loss on Tuesday night against the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins, the Blue Jackets return to the Nationwide Arena ice for a contest with another division leader, the Detroit Red Wings, for their sixth and final meeting of the season. Tonight's faceoff is scheduled for 7PM.

As the games tick off the schedule, the playoff implications become greater for the Jackets. Now, with just thirteen games remaining on their 2010-2011 schedule, the Jackets find themselves in twelfth place in the Western Conference, seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Here at The Cannon, we've been emphasizing for weeks that these are crucial times for the Jackets' slim playoff aspirations. As those playoff hopes get dimmer and dimmer, it's probably more accurate to say that the Jackets' effort is no longer crucial, but desperate may be a better description for what the team needs to bring to the ice against the perennial powerhouse Wings tonight.

Essentials:
Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 WFAN
Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets coverage

Opponent's Blog: Winging It In Motown

Since the trade deadline, the Jackets have been mired in a slump that could not have possibly come along at a worse time. Although there have been occasional bright spots, there still are several players who continue to struggle at this, the worst of times.

Scottie Upshall has been among the most productive of the Jackets since his arrival at the trade deadline. Upshall has netted four goals in eight games with Columbus. When it comes to late season acquistions, termed elsewhere as "rent-a-players", Upshall has delivered for the Jackets. Whether or not he remains a part of the Jackets family after this season is speculative at this time. All indications are that Upshall is content with his surroundings and may very well be a Blue Jacket for some time to come. He brings to the lineup an Umberger-like tenacity that has been refreshing to see.

Among those struggling for the Blue Jackets lately is Captain Rick Nash. Since his two goal night against the Predators on February 22nd, the captain has yet to find the back of the net in the nine games since then. The Jackets are 2-4-4 in their last ten games, and Nash isn't the only one who has had difficulty putting the biscuit in the basket. Antoine Vermette, with one goal in his last ten games, is another of the Jackets who needs to step up if the Jackets playoff hopes are to become a reality.

On a brighter note, Steve Mason in particular played a fine game against the Bruins. He made several key saves that kept the Jackets in the game throughout the night. Coupled with a nice effort last Saturday against Carolina, Mase has put together consecutive good outings, giving up just two regulation goals in each game. Also, Derek MacKenzie has been a bright spot of late. D-Mac has four goals and an assist in his last six games as he makes the most of his ice time.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page Schedule
Roster Stats

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Jared Boll
Ethan Moreau Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Scottie Upshall Derek MacKenzie Matt Calvert
Jan Hejda Sami Lepisto
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Steve Mason

Mathieu Garon

Usually, the opponent's depth chart would appear in this area, however I haven't found that as of this writing. Sorry, gang!

With each passing game however, the hill to playoff hockey in Columbus gets a little bit steeper. The always tough Red Wings will come into Nationwide hot off a 3-2 win last night against the Washington Capitals, a win which broke a nine game winning streak by the Caps. The Wings are 5-3-2 over their last ten games. Detroit has now won three straight and will be looking to avenge the February 4th game at the Joe, when Steve Mason posted a 34 save shutout in a 3-0 Jackets victory.

Stay tuned to The Cannon for all the latest on the Blue Jackets!