Friday, April 07, 2006

GameDay: vs. Columbus (32-40-3, 67 Pts) 7:30 ET

Tonight is the seventh of eight games the Wings will play against the Jackets this season. They are 5-1 against them so far: 6-0 October 20th, 6-2 October 24th, 4-3 (SO) December 20th, 5-2 December 31st, and 4-0 January 8th. The Jackets finally got a win on March 25th, a 5-4 shootout decision after a 3rd period Detroit meltdown. The league-leading Wings (112 Pts) have won their last two, 3-2 over Minnesota on Sunday and 2-1 over Calgary in a shootout on Monday. The Flames game wrapped up a difficult stretch of play in which they played four games in five days in four cities. They managed to win three of the four, losing only to Chicago on Friday, and locked up the Division on Sunday with the win against the Wild. Manny Legace will get the start tonight. Mathieu Schneider will remain out with a lower body injury. Brett Lebda is back in Grand Rapids so Jason Woolley and Cory Cross will both be in the lineup. Dan Cleary is supposed to return from a rib injury tonight. (DetNews) The Blue Jackets went into Detroit last time having just snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Calgary the night before. This time, they're riding a six-game winning streak, which is a franchise record, and are giving their fans something to hope for in the near future, although they cannot make the playoffs this season. In their four games since beating the Wings 5-4 in a shootout on March 25th, the Jackets have outscored their opponents 16-4, beating San Jose, St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville. They have been rotating their goalies and since Pascal Leclaire started Monday in Nashville, I expect Marc Denis will be in net tonight. David Vyborny, the Jackets' top scorer, will be in the lineup tonight after taking Brendan Witt's knee to his right thigh on Monday night. Witt was suspended one game for the play, which would have caused Vyborny serious injury had contact been made knee-on-knee. The Jackets will hope to continue their habit of not losing to the Wings in April, having gone 2-0-1 (tie) against Detroit the last month of the season in previous years, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Having soberly reflected on their triumph last time they were in town, the Jackets expect the Wings to be gunning for them tonight, and they plan on coming out of the gates strong in anticipation of a fast start by Detroit. I don't envy Denis (or Leclair, if he plays). Aside from wanting revenge, the Red Wing forwards have to have a lot of pent up frustration from Monday's low-scoring game and hopefully will be looking to vent it out on the next unsuspecting goalie they run across.


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