Boston, MA- Saturday night, the TD Banknorth Garden will welcome a relatively unfamiliar foe. The Columbus Blue Jackets invade Boston for the first time since a 7-2 drubbing by the Bruins on January 18, 2003. It will be Columbus' third visit to Boston, and the seventh meeting between the teams all time. The Bruins enter Saturday's contest tied for the second most points in the Eastern Conference with 37. Their 17-11-3 record puts them six points behind first place Ottawa. Columbus is tied for second in the Central Division with a record of 14-11-6, good for 34 points. The Blue Jackets play their best hockey at home, where they have nine of their 14 wins.
Leading the way for Columbus is Rick Nash. Nash holds the lead in all three offensive categories for the Blue Jackets with 18 goals, 13 assists, and 31 points. Six of Nash's goals have come on the power play. Second on the Blue Jackets is Nikolai Zherdev. Zherdev has an even split with 12 goals and 12 assists. Then comes veteran center Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov has six goals and 17 points in 31 games so far this season. Three Blue Jackets are tied with five goals each; Jason Chimera, Manny Malhotra, and Curtis Glencross. When looking at the stats, it would appear that David Vyborny has gotten off to a slow start with two goals and ten points. He has missed five games this season, and should regain his scoring form in no time. Michael Peca is another one to watch for Columbus with his 14 points.
On defense, Ron Hainsey leads the way with twelve assists and 15 points. The 15 points place him fourth on the Blue Jackets roster. Rostislav Klesla is tied with Hainsey for the team lead in goals by a defenseman with three. He has five assists to go along with the three tallies. Adam Foote anchors this young Columbus blueline. He has amassed five points so far this season. Youngster Ole-Kristian Tollefsen won't put up many points, but he is definitely not scared of the rough stuff.
In goal, the story for the Blue Jackets has been the play of Pascal Leclaire. Leclaire has ten wins so far this season, and amazingly, six have come via shutout. In 22 games, the Quebec native has a record of 10-6-3, a dazzling 2.02 goals against average, and a strong .927 save percentage. Columbus' other goaltender is Fredrik Norrena. Norrena hasn't quite put up the numbers that Leclaire has, but they are certainly respectable. Norrena owns a 4-5-3 record, 2.44 goals against average, and .910 save percentage.
The Providence Bruins took care of business on Friday night. Taking on the East Division's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Baby B's jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead, and tagged on one more for a 4-1 victory. Sean Curry got the offense going when he tapped home the rebound of a Matt Hendricks shot on the power play. Bridgeport tied the game a few minutes later on a Steve Regier goal. Providence grabbed two goals in the final minute of the first period. Sean Curry netted another power play goal, sneaking a shot in past Joey MacDonald on the short side, then Chris Collins crashed the net and got rewarded with a goal of his own. "It put them on their heels, and anytime you can get a goal late in a period, it usually takes momentum into the next period," said P-Bruins Coach Scott Gordon. Early in that next period, Wacey Rabbit capped the scoring with a wrist shot from the right circle. Andy Franck earned the win for Providence with 21 saves.
One outstanding note from Providence on Friday night was Jordan Sigalet. About a month ago, Sigalet collapsed in his crease and lost all feeling in his hands and legs. Friday night, Sigalet was at the Dunkin Donuts Center walking under his own power. Seeing him like this in person after such a tragic moment was a sight I personally will never forget. Sigalet had a big affect on the team in the win as well. "I broke a Livestrong bracelet, and he (Jordan) brought me another one tonight," said teammate Sean Curry. "He said that's why I scored the goals. I don't know, I kind of believe him," Curry said.
Both Bruins teams are in action Saturday night. The Boston Bruins host the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:00. The Providence Bruins travel to Lowell for a game with the Devils at 7:00.