Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/17/11
INSIDE SHOTSCastoffs become mainstays with Jackets This is the present state of the Blue Jackets: Defenseman Nikita Nikitin and center Mark Letestu, bit players on their previous teams, join Columbus in trades and end up playing heavy minutes in prime roles.Nikitin, acquired from St. Louis late last week in the trade that sent defenseman Kris Russell to St. Louis, has played just shy of 25 minutes in each of his first two games with Columbus. He has joined Fedor Tyutin on the No. 1 pair after being a healthy scratch in seven of his last eight games with the Blues.Letestu, acquired from Pittsburgh for a fourth-round draft pick one week ago, has joined the Blue Jackets' No. 2 line, first as a right winger and now as a center. He has supplanted centers Antoine Vermette, now playing left wing on the third line, and center Derick Brassard, a healthy scratch the last two games.Letestu has scored two goals, justifying the ice time.But what does this say about the Blue Jackets, who spent up to the NHL salary cap this summer and have the NHL's worst record (3-13-1) after a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday? And the schedule gets tougher from here -- they head out on the road for games at Boston on Thursday and Nashville on Saturday.NOTES, QUOTES--Tuesday's game vs. Minnesota marked the first time Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski and Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck played since an end-of-game spat during the exhibition season led to an eight-game suspension for Wisniewski. Both players said the incident was behind them, and they held true to their words. There was no debris in Tuesday's game.--The Blue Jackets might rue the day they let former coach Ken Hitchcock coach the St. Louis Blues. Since taking over the Blues, Hitchcock has earned as many points in four games (3-0-1) as the Blue Jackets have earned in 17 games (3-13-1) this season. Hitchcock is the winningest coach in franchise history but was fired in 2009-10, one season after leading the Jackets to their only playoff berth.QUOTE TO NOTE: "For 30 minutes we absolutely dominated them. Probably our best 30 minutes of the year, and then we just seemed to go into a shell." -- Blue Jackets Scott Arniel after his club blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 to Minnesota on Tuesday.ROSTER REPORTPLAYER NOTES:--C Antoine Vermette ended the longest streak without a goal in his NHL career at 21 games. Vermette scored the Jackets' first goal on Tuesday, his first marker since March 31. Previously he had two 19-game streaks, including the first 19 games of his NHL career with Ottawa in 2005-06.--LW Rick Nash has no goals, two assists and a minus-9 rating in his last five games. He has missed at least three golden scoring chances in the last two games, including a shot off the post with a nearly empty net in the third period.--C Mark Letestu has two goals in three games since joining the Blue Jackets in a trade with Pittsburgh last week. Letestu has gone from a fourth-line forward who was likely to be waived in the coming weeks to a top-six center with the Blue Jackets.MEDICAL WATCH:--LW Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral muscle) is out until late November but possibly the new year.--G Mark Dekanich (groin) came up lame during warmups of a minor league game on Nov. 11 and is out indefinitely.--D Radek Martinek (concussion) is out indefinitely.GOALTENDERS:--Steve Mason--Allen YorkDEFENSIVE PAIRINGS:--Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin--Marc Methot, James Wisniewski--Grant Clitsome, John MooreFIRST LINE:--LW R.J. Umberger, C Jeff Carter, RW Rick NashSECOND LINE:--LW Vinny Prospal, C Mark Letestu, RW Ryan JohansenTHIRD LINE:--LW Antoine Vermette, C Sammy Pahlsson, RW Derek Dorsett FOURTH LINE:--LW Matt Calvert, C Derek MacKenzie, RW Jared Boll
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