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Scouting the Enemy: Columbus Blue Jackets

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Record: 34-27-6

Leading scorers: Rick Nash (32G, 33A), Kristian Huselius (18G, 28A)

Blogs: Light the Lamp

The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming off a 2-0 win over none other than the Eastern Conference's best Boston Bruins.  Although somewhat deceiving given the Bruins' 1-4 March record, the Blue Jackets are still an interesting force that runs a strong chance of disrupting Pittsburgh's seven game win streak.

Columbus' position in the Western Conference is very similar to that of the Penguins in the East.  Both teams are sitting in sixth with other teams well within striking distance.  Although the West is nowhere near as close as the East, seven teams remain in the hunt for the seven and eight seed.  Columbus can afford to lose, but only at the expense of allowing Edmonton and Nashville a better chance at creeping up.

Unlike the last meeting between the Jackets and Pens, both teams will have an entirely different motive.  Wade Dubielewicz started for Columbus back on February 6 and subsequently dropped a 4-1 game.  You can bet tonight's game will feature Steve Mason, injured in the last time out but now hoping to bring his League-leading total of nine shutouts to a double digit.

So where do you focus the attention against a team like the Blue Jackets?  After all, it's not the sort of team you play on a monthly basis.  Is this the sort of team where, similar to the Caps, shutting down their leading scorer (Rick Nash) ultimately shuts down the team?  Don't forget former Flyer and notorious Penguin killer R.J. Umberger is suited up for the Jackets now too.  The Pens contained both guys the last time out.  Can they do it again?

Let's hope so.  Nash wasn't last week's third star for nothing, as he became the first player since Maurice Richard to score an unassisted hat trick.  One man machine.