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12-03-2009, 05:09 AM
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Game 28: Dec 3rd Blue Jackets vs Toronto: The Win in 60 Edition


7 pm EST at Nationwide Arena

Propitious Beginnings:

The Maple Leafs canceled their afternoon skate in the Ice Haus. Just a handful of Blue Jackets took part in an optional skate. The majority of players didn't come to the rink. Coach Ken Hitchcock doesn't anticipate many lineup changes. He might juggle his left wings. Steve Mason will start. Marc Methot, if healthy, will play and likely replace Mathieu Roy. ~Puckraker, Dec 2

Current Records: Toronto 7-12-7; Columbus 13-9-5
Team's Last 10: Toronto 4-4-2; Columbus 4-3-3

This will be the only meeting between Columbus and Toronto. The Jackets took their sole matchup a season ago, a 4-3 shootout win at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 19.

Who's Hot
Lil' Russ
Your Mom

Who's Not
Steven Mason
Blue Jackets Shootout Specialists

The Big story -- (if you're from Toronto, or work for the NHL) Backup goalie Joey MacDonald stopped all 18 shots he faced in Montreal on Tuesday. (Gus the Monster went to the hospital with a heart problem.)

The Big story -- (if you're a Jackets fan) Steve Mason broke his stick on the goal and on the boards in his shootout loss. Rusty broke his groin. Will the team respond? Who will step up?

Maple Leafs -- After a rough start to the season that saw Toronto lose its first eight games, the Leafs have slowly begun crawling out of a hole that appeared too deep just a month ago. As the season enters its third month, Toronto is just seven points out of the East's top eight and has plenty of time to jump into the logjam around the final spot. The Leafs have gotten an offensive boost out of Phil Kessel, who has 13 points in 14 games since making his debut, and Niklas Hagman, whose six points in his last six games.

There is cause for concern, however. After stopping all eight shots he faced in the first period against Montreal Wednesday, Gustavsson left the game with a recurrence of heart problems that affected him in training camp. While Gustavsson, who has backstopped the Leafs through most of their resurgence, has reportedly told friends he is feeling fine, the netminder is already back in Toronto. The Leafs will finish their current road swing without him, with MacDonald getting the call Thursday.

(Jf note: the Leafs write up on was twice the length of the BJ's.)

Blue Jackets -- Since winning five of six games in early November, the Jackets have struggled, winning just once in their last seven. Perhaps not surprisingly, the recent slide has coincided with a rough stretch for goalie Steve Mason. ...3.50 goals against average.

While the blame surely can't all rest on Mason's shoulders, the Jackets have not lacked for offense. Winger Kristian Huselius has tallied 12 points over the last 10 games, while R.J. Umberger has six points in his last two, including a hat trick Monday against St. Louis. If Mason can regain the form he displayed a year ago, the Jackets could prove themselves to be a steady force in the West.

Who's hot -- While Kessel has been the offensive newsmaker, center Matt Stajan has quietly tallied five goals and five assists in his last 10 games for Toronto. In Columbus, center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Kris Russell have combined for four goals and three assists over the last two games.

Injury report -- Marc Methot is doubtful. Rostislav Klesla 4-6 weeks with a torn groin. In addition to missing Gustavsson, Toronto may miss Carl Gunnarsson (whoever he is).

Gustavsson's value
The Leafs have grabbed at least one point in 11 of the last 14 appearances for the Monster, who is 6-5-5 overall in his first NHL campaign. When Gustavsson doesn't take the ice, Toronto is 1-7-2.

Puck drop
These are two teams that appear to be going in opposite directions, but the Leafs are still behind several teams in the East playoff race, while Columbus would be in if the regular season ended today.

But this will be the Leafs' first visit to Ohio in more than three years.

NHL Previewer's Prediction: Jackets in a Shootout (hahaha, they don't watch)

Portions lifted from

Last edited by JACKETfan: 12-03-2009 at 05:41 AM.
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