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Morning Skate: First of three

Detroit and Columbus face off for the first of three times in the remaining six games for Detroit. 

  • Jimmy Howard will start his 24th straight game in net for Detroit. Howard looked a little shaky on Tuesday. But hey, it's gonna happen every now and then. Despite the previous thought that Jimmy will set the rookie record for consecutive starts but apparently that record belongs to Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall, who started SEVENTY (read: all) of the games their rookie campaigns.
  • Dan Cleary is out again, Meechums will take his spot in the line-up. Darren Helm and Jason Williams sat out of practice but will still play. Cleary's still feeling the effects of the groin issue and the fact that he will look like Old Man Marley in 30 years.
  • Important out of town scores: Blackhawks 4, Wild 0; Stars 5, Sharks 1 (really?); Ducks 5, Avalanche 2. 
  • What those scores mean: Blackhawks move 2 points further away from Detroit and the chances of catching them for the division (which were slim to begin with) are looking even less likely. The Stars/Sharks game has very little implication other than the fact that the Sharks gave up a hat trick to...STEVE OTT. Oh, and Nabokov gave up FIVE goals on 21 shots. What is this, the Olympics? The Ducks win keeps the cushion between Detroit's current spot and Colorado's 8th to a nice 4 points. 
  • Good news everyone! It appears there's a lot of problems in the KHL with Moscow Dynamo and a potential shake-up within the team. Add in the fact that a certain #26 wants to return to Detroit, and we could very well be seeing Jiri Hudler back in the winged wheel for the 2010-2011 season.
  • So about Columbus, they've won two straight and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. Rick Nash has continued to wreck any team he plays and Detroit is one of the teams he salivates over when he sees them on the schedule. 
  • Rick Nash, as I alluded to, is the  playmaker for Columbus. Nash leads Columbus with 33 goals and 32 assists for 65 points. Homeboy is good, real good, and could be incredible if he was surrounded by some better players around him.
  • Steve Mason has had an incredibly difficult sophomore season after his Calder Trophy winning year last year. Mason has a 3.13 GAA and a .898 SV% this year compared to his 2.29 GAA and .916% last year.
  • In the previous three games this year, Detroit has a 2-0-1 record. There was the 9-1 beatdown followed by a closer 2-1 win and then the 0-1 OT L in which Tiberius stopped 39 of 40.
  • What we've learned over the past couple of games threads: Anteaters rule the universe, eight_legged_freaks' Michigan hoodie is undefeated as well as my Datsyuk shirt, non-anteaters are bad mojo, 
  • If you haven't already read it, go read Joe Hass' story on Gordie Howe. Awesome story and you can see it play out in your head as your read it. Well done, sir.
  • The Cannon is the SB Nation Blue Jackets affiliate.