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Avalanche Vs. Blue Jackets: Colorado Looks To Extend Columbus' Sluggish Start

Fresh off their 1-0 shutout victory over the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, the Colorado Avalanche look to continue their winning ways on this season-long five game road trip as they face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus was one of the more active teams this offseason, trading for star forward Jeff Carter and extending forward RJ Umberger and defenseman James Wisniewski to huge long-term contracts. With these deals, Columbus now has the fourth largest payroll in the entire NHL. (I guarantee you didn't know that!)

Money has not translated into results so far this season, as the team has scuffled to an 0-3 start despite preseason playoff aspirations. Special teams have been their downfall, as they've allowed four power play goals in just 11 opportunities, a dismal 63.64% kill. Their power play has also done nothing, with zero goals in 16 opportunities. These numbers will stabilize over the course of the season, but it's an easy reason for their slow start.

Rick Nash, Carter, and Vinny Prospal have been carrying a quality offense with three points apiece through the first three games of the season, but they've received very little help from the rest of the roster. Goalie Steve Mason continues to disappoint, with an .873 SV% this season.

This game will also be a homecoming for new Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda. The former Blue Jackets defenseman signed a four year deal with Colorado this offseason after voicing his displeasure with Columbus' contract offers and has been an early star on the Avalanche blue line. Forward Joakim Lindstrom will also make his return to Columbus -- the team that initially drafted him in the second round of the 2002 NHL Draft.

Columbus' early struggles on special teams and in net bode well for a Colorado Avalanche that has played well, yet only managed a single goal in two games. History is on Colorado's side, as they have a career 30-8-1-1 record against the Blue Jackets.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, fresh off his fifth career shutout, is expected to start once again.

The puck drops at 5:00 p.m. MDT.

This game will only be available via NHL Gamecenter or NHL Center Ice and will not be blacked out in Colorado.

For more on this game, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Blue Jackets blog, The Cannon.