Game 17: Jackets take on Detroit

The Jackets and the Red Wings face each other tonight in their first matchup since last year's playoffs where Detroit swept Columbus in the first round. This year's version of the Winged Wheel has a lot of missing parts, however, so the table may finally be turning in favour of Columbus.

The Jackets are unbeaten in their last four games, and will look to continue that streak tonight. Detroit is always dangerous, but I believe this game will be a CBJ victory. It will be a statement game-for all the years Detroit has beat down on the Jackets, it's now the Jackets' turn to lay down the beating.

Casey Richey, from the Red Wings' SBNation blog Winging It In Motown and I each did a question and answer piece for each other's team, check out Winging it in Motown to see my answers to his questions, and here are his answers to my questions:

1) From a Jackets perspective, the Red Wings may be their biggest rival- how does Detroit perceive the Jackets in terms of a rivalry? It could just be my opinion, but the Blue Jackets are my least hated team in the Central Division. The other teams in the division are long-time rivals and the Predators are one of my least favorite teams but I would actually pull for Columbus over any of the remaining teams to win the division (behind Detroit of course).

2) The Wings lost a ton of offense this past off-season, while they won't score as many goals, does the team still have the ability to finish the season at or near the top of the standings? I’m starting to question it myself with the inability to play solid defense now that the offense isn’t outscoring everyone by 4-1 margins. The losses of Franzen, Filppula, Williams off of this year’s team were brutal and Chris Osgood, to be honest, might not be able to stop a beach ball right now.

3) I know he was recently injured, but how has former Jacket Jason Williams looked so far? Willy was really starting to fit back into the system quite well and unfortunately he broke his leg right when he was finding his place on the team. He was a great addition to the power play with his rocket of a shot and was pretty good defensively too. His stats weren’t the best but he was getting quality chances and finding the vacant spots on the ice and beating defenders there. Hopefully he’ll be able to fully return this season.

4) Will the Wings stick with their current goaltending tandem, or do you think they will pursue a trade for a goaltender? One of the extra goalies on Long Island when DiPietro returns maybe? I think Ken Holland is pretty steadfast in keeping what we have in town. But if there were a move made, it would likely be for Martin Biron. The Isles want a defender so it would most likely be Brett Lebda or Derek Meech but that probably won’t happen until much further into the season, if it happens at all.

5) Do you think coach Mike Babcock is distracted at all, where he is the coach of Team Canada at the Olympics in February? There is a ton of pressure on the coaching staff to avoid the disappointment Canada felt in Turin four years ago. I’ve kind of wondered this myself but I can’t quite put my finger on whether or not it has become a distraction. I think it’s obviously going to be in the back of his mind but he’s also coached very well this season but just been let down by weak goaltending and/or defensive play late in games.

BONUS) Predict the final Central Division standings! 1)Chicago 2)Detroit 3)Columbus 4)St. Louis 5) Nashville with 2 and 3 possibly switching....

Fearless Prediction- Mase gets a shutout!

Game Time: 7:00pm ET

Opponent's Blog: Winging It In Motown

Game Page: Red Wings vs Blue Jackets Coverage

TSN Preview: Red Wings vs Blue Jackets Preview

TV: FSN Ohio

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

More after the jump...

From the Columbus Dispatch:

There was a little extra energy this morning at the arena with the Red Wings in town. The Jackets get their first shot at the team that swept them from the playoffs a season ago. It's also a matchup of the league's youngest (25.9) and oldest (30.9) teams.

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

R.J. Umberger
Antoine Vermette
Rick Nash
Raffi Torres
Derick Brassard
Jakub Voracek
Jason Chimera Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Nikita Filatov
Derek MacKenzie
Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin Anton Stralman
Rostislav Klesla
Jan Hejda
Marc Methot Mike Commodore
Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

EXTRA: Kris Russell

INJURED: Fredrik Modin, Andrew Murray, Kristian Huselius, Michael Blunden

Detroit Red Wings

Todd Bertuzzi
Pavel Datsyuk
Tomas Holmstrom
Dan Cleary
Henrik Zetterberg
Ville Leino
Kris Draper
Darren Helm
Patrick Eaves
Brad May
Justin Abdelkader
Kirk Maltby
Niklas Lidstrom
Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall
Brad Stuart
Brett Lebda
Jonathan Ericsson
Jimmy Howard
Chris Osgood

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