Attacking zone: Blue Jackets players to watch

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If you're just now hopping back on board the Blue Jackets bandwagon, you'll find a team filled with new faces. Here are the players to keep your eye on during the final push for the playoffs.

Steve Mason, 1

Age: 20

Birthplace: Oakville, Ontario

Position: Goalie

Years with Jackets: 1

Years in NHL: 1

The Jackets' rookie goaltender has been the key to the best season in team history. Mase is the front-runner for the Calder Trophy, given to the league's top rookie, and he's kept the Jackets - hardly an offensive juggernaut - in a lot of close games. And he can't even legally buy a beer yet.

That just happened: Mason's favorite movie is Talladega Nights.

Rick Nash, 61

Age: 24

Birthplace: Brampton, Ontario

Position: Left wing

Years with Jackets: 7

Years in NHL: 7

The face of the franchise is having the best season of his career. He's one of the league's best power forwards and the Jackets' top scoring threat, but his quiet leadership as team captain shouldn't go unappreciated.

Nash Bridges: If he wasn't playing hockey, Nash says he would be a gym teacher or a cop.

Antoine Vermette, 50

Age: 26

Birthplace: St. Agapit, Quebec

Position: Center

Years with Jackets: 1

Years in NHL: 6

One of Mason's other contributions to the team this year: He allowed the Jackets to trade former starting goalie Pascal Leclaire, landing the skilled Vermette. The center has already flashed highlight-reel moves and has been one of the team's top scorers since his arrival.

Ladies' man: Female Ottawa Senators fans took the trade of eye-candy Vermette especially hard.

Mike Commodore, 22

Age: 29

Birthplace: Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

Position: Defense

Years with Jackets: 1

Years in NHL: 9

Commodore has filled the defensive-minded defenseman hole created by the departure of the now-reviled former Jacket Adam Foote. Commodore is tough, smart, and his red-'fro-and-playoff-beard combo are the stuff of legend.

At the end of his robe: Trainers are reportedly readying Commodore's trademark white terrycloth bathrobe for the playoffs.

Jared Boll, 40

Age: 22

Birthplace: Charlotte, North Carolina

Position: Right wing

Years with Jackets: 3

Years in NHL: 3

Fan-favorite tough guy Boll probably won't be dropping the gloves in the playoffs, where fights are a rarity, but his big checks and pesky persistence keep opponents on their toes during his shifts.

Passing the torch: This February, Boll finally threw down with beloved former Jackets enforcer Jody Shelley. Voters at ruled the bout a draw.

R.J. Umberger, 18

Age: 26

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Position: Center

Years with Jackets: 1

Years in NHL: 5

The offseason acquisition has turned into the team's No. 2 goal scorer. He leads the team in power-play goals, an area that has been an Achilles' heel for the Jackets.

Home cooked: Need another reason to love Umberger? He played his college hockey at Ohio State.

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