With 13 games on tap for Friday, it’s a battle for top spot in the Central Division that has our attention.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 7:00 PM ET
The surprising Columbus Blue Jackets look to make it six straight wins as they host the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena. Columbus owns one of the league’s best road record at 8-1, but they’ll have to get it done at home if they want to take the lead in the Central Division.
Let’s see what Ron Barr has to say about these two teams.
Detroit Red Wings: Rich in talent at all positions, the Red Wings possess one of the NHL’s top offences. With a line-up that includes quality checkers, scoring power and a two-way defense, Detroit should challenge for the Stanley Cup. Henrik Zetterberg is a tireless worker with stunning playmaking skills. Zetterberg is a finesse player who tears through traffic. He can find the open man with an accurate pass or bulge the twine himself with a well placed shot. Use him in all situations, including penalty killing. Nicklas Lidstrom is a terrific defenseman who can jump up into the play and become a fourth forward.
Jimmy Howard is rock solid and a quality choice between the pipes. Pavel Datsyuk is a player most NHL coaches would covet to have on their roster. The two-way center has solid defensive skills to complement a whirlwind of offensive capabilities. A consistent 25-plus goal man, Datsyuk is great in every situation. He has tremendous moves and is exceptional with the puck.
Columbus Blue Jackets: It all starts with Rick Nash in Columbus. Nash is one of the game’s premier power forwards, and he’s on a hot streak. His hard accurate shot finds the back of the net when he’s on, Nash can scare opposing goalies when he’s flying down the wing. Look to set up his powerful one-timer by passing with the A-button and quickly pressing the B-button. Steve Mason is a young goaltender with tremendous upside, he could be one of the game’s top netminders when he puts it all together.
The Blue Jackets rely on a mix of big strong defenders and some skilled puck-movers. Rostislav Klesla is an underrated defenceman who brings a well-rounded game to the table every night. Columbus is deep down the middle with the likes of Brassard, Vermette, Umberger, and Pahlsson. Use Vermette’s strong faceoff ability in all situations.
Celebrity Fan Watch
Columbus has a celebrity fan in Erin Andrews of ESPN, while Detroit counters with Dave “Uncle Joey” Coulier. Umm, advantage Columbus.
Prediction: We’re going with the Blue Jackets this evening. What better way to show the hockey world you’re for real than to beat up on the mighty Detroit Red Wings. Jackets narrowly win, and Mike Babcock will look pissed.