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Morning Skate: Black & Blue Jackets Friday

Welcome back everybody.  Hope those of us to the north enjoyed their regular Thursday and everybody who celebrated American Thanksgiving had a happy one.  Tonight at 7 EST, the Wings resume their schedule with a game against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.  The BJs have been the hottest thing going since they unseeded the last hottest thing going when they crushed the Blues 8-1 back on the 10th.  If logic serves me correctly (which it rarely does), this means beating Columbus should make Detroit the hottest thing going.

That would be a good thing, because (using the sliding scale), Detroit has lost two of three games, including a stinker on Wednesday in Atlanta.  The home-and-home series this weekend will help decide who's going to be at the top of the Central division standings going into next week.  Detroit and Columbus are tied with 28 points apiece with the Wings holding a game in hand.

The Cannon is your SB nation blog for the Blue Jackets

More after the jump

  • The Jackets will be wearing their new third jerseys tonight.  I have to admit I kind of like the cannon, but we've seen the theme everywhere.  I'm so tired of this same look on every team's third jerseys.  What do you think?
  • Jimmy Howard has allowed four goals in each of his last three games.  We'll need him to flip the switch back on for the weekend as he's expected to start both games against the Jackets.  Their 2.90 goals per game is only good for 14th, but they're the third-best team defensively, allowing only 2.35.  Detroit is basically the opposite there with the 14th best goals against average of 2.74 and 2nd-best goals for at 3.53. 
  • Blah blah numbers - bottom line, can Detroit put up goals against the hot Columbus defense while keeping the puck out of their own net?  Rumor has it that this is a very effective strategy for winning hockey games.
  • Steve Mason still hasn't found the game that made him the Calder trophy winner two seasons ago, but he's been better.  Driving that, his backup Mathieu Garon has shutouts in three of the eight games he's played this year and a save percentage of .950. 
  • I think I'm obligated by law to say something about how I'd like to have Rick Nash on my team if it were a perfect world.  Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and he has a cap hit of $7.8M per year.  He has 13 goals to lead Columbus and a minus-1 rating.  Only one of his goals have come with the man advantage.
  • Maybe that's why Columbus' power play is only 11.4% effective on the season.  Of course, since the hot start, Detroit's PK has dropped to 16th-best by only killing 82.2% of penalties.  Can we stop giving up goals, please?
  • Score Prediction:  I'm going to say that Detroit struggles early to get on the same page, but is actually able to find near-playoff intensity in time to pull out a tightly-contested game.  3-2 Detroit.
  • Player of the Game: Know who has a knack for scoring clutch goals?  Johan Franzen has a knack for scoring clutch goals.  I think he pots the game-winner and makes Mike Commodore cry.
  • Get your score and player of the game predictions in the comments.  We'll see you at 6:15 for the game thread.
  • Unrelated: go read Lisa McRitchie's article over at The Copper and Blue about her trip to Detroit to watch the Oilers/Wings game from November 11th.  You know, that game that Robert Tychkowski introduced in his post by saying the weather forecast was "muggy with a chance of murder".  It's an honest outsider's opinion that doesn't sugarcoat the truth, but also doesn't resort to low-blows.  Really fantastic read.