The Weekly Reader Vol. 19: Dropping the Puck

At long last, hockey fans, it is October, and that means it’s time for the NHL regular season to get started. Play opens tomorrow night as the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers. The game is at 7:00 p.m. EST on Versus, which means I recommend starting your search for the Versus network around 6:30 p.m. to avoid missing any action. (For those of us with Directv, it is conveniently located somewhere in the 600s.)

Versus will carry a double-header tomorrow night, airing the Pittsburgh at Vancouver contest at 10:00 p.m. If you’re hoping to see NHL superstar Sidney Crosby in action, don’t hold your breath….he’s out for the game, evidently recovering from a concussion suffered in the middle of last season. Questions about his toughness are clearly unfounded. And in other news, just in case you’re Canadian, you might be interested to know that Montreal also visits Toronto at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Fans will have to wait a little longer to watch Sidney Crosby dive (Photo: Protect This Throne)

The Columbus Blue Jackets will open the 2011-12 campaign this Friday night at home against the Nashville Predators (aka “Darth Vader”). I am going to call this the most anticipated season in Blue Jacket history; and I am going to do so based solely on my excitement and optimism, coupled with the fact that the last “most anticipated season in CBJ history” — the follow-up to the 2009 playoff season — was as epic as a big wet fart. Columbus then goes on the road Saturday to Minnesota before returning home next Monday and Wednesday to play Colorado and Vancouver, respectively.

The Blue Jackets roster for this season includes a lot of new names and numbers that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get to know in short order. That’s because screaming angrily at a random jersey number when he turns the puck over for an opponent’s easy break-away goal isn’t nearly as fun as being able to sprinkle in some personal insults about him and/or his mother. So below is the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets roster as it stands heading into game one:

1 Steve Mason
2 Radek Martinek
3 Marc Methot
5 Aaron Johnson
7 Jeff Carter
8 Maksim Mayorov
10 Kris Russell
11 Matt Calvert
13 Cam Atkinson
14 Grant Clitsome
15 Derek Dorsett
16 Derek Brassard
18 R.J. Umberger
19 Ryan Johansen
21 James Wisniewski
22 Vinny Prospal
24 Derek MacKenzie
26 Sammy Pahlsson
30 Curtis Sanford
50 Antoine Vermette
51 Fedor Tyutin
58 David Savard
61 Rick Nash

Forwards Kristian Huselius and Jared Boll and back-up goaltender Mark Dekanich begin the season on injured reserve. Look for Vinny Prospal to start off on the top forward line alongside Jeff Carter and Rick Nash, and keep a close eye on how that trio produces as the season gets underway. If the Jackets are going to make a legitimate playoff run this year, they’ll need plenty of scoring power from their number one line. It will also be interesting to see how Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen, two rookies who have turned heads in their days in Springfield and elsewhere, will fare in their first NHL season. Will they be stars in the making, or perhaps Nikita Filatov-style flame-outs?

Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski are ready to fire that cannon in Columbus (Photo:

Stay tuned to The Weekly Reader and Fire That Cannon as the Blue Jacket season gets underway for news, insights and opinions about the happenings on and off the ice. Until next week, happy hockey!

Follow Joe Reader on Twitter: @osujoe.