Sunday, March 1, 2009

Canucks/Blue Jackets Game Day

The Canucks (31-22-8) meet the Columbus Blue Jackets (31-25-6) for the fourth and final time this season. The Canucks have a two-point lead on the Jackets, and have a game in hand on Columbus after tonight's game.

Columbus has won all three previous meetings this season against Vancouver. In their last match-up Jan. 18 at GM Place, the Canucks blew a 3-1 lead in the first period, came back from a 5-3 deficit in the third period, and wound up falling 6-5 in a shoot-out. Kevin Bieksa (3g,1a), Kyle Wellwood (2g,1a), and Henrik Sedin (1g,2a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Rick Nash (2g,5a), Kristian Huselius (2g,3a), and Mike Commodore (1g,2a) lead the Blue Jackets.

The Canucks are coming off a lack-luster 2-1 win at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning last Friday. The Canucks wrap up the month going 9-2-0 in February after a disappointing 2-5-5 record in January. The Canucks are also currently riding a four-game home ice winning streak. During that streak, Vancouver has allowed just three power play goals against in ten short-handed situations. Ryan Kesler is poised to play his 300th career regular season came tonight for the Canucks.

The Jackets are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and are getting fantastic goaltending from 20 year-old rookie Steve Mason. He's coming off a 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. It was his NHL-leading 8th shut-out of the year, five of which have come away from Columbus. The last time a NHL rookie goalie had eight shut-outs in one season was in the 1971-72 season, when Ken Dryden did it for the Montreal Canadiens.

Blue Jackets bench boss Ken Hitchcock recenty became a member of the 500-win club. He currently sits 11th overall in all-time wins as a Head Coach in the NHL.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams for tonight's game at 5:00pm:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Pyatt

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien


Blue Jackets

Rick Nash - Jason Williams - Jakub Voracek
Kristian Huselius - Manny Malhotra - R.J. Umberger
Raffi Torres - Michael Peca - Jared Boll
Andrew Murray - Chris Gratton - Derek Dorsett

Jan Hejda - Mike Commodore
Fedor Tyutin - Marc Methot
Kris Russell - Aaron Rome

Steve Mason
Wade Dubielewicz

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