Blue Jackets Schedule Showcase: Blackhawks v. Jackets, 12/31

CHICAGO IL - FEBRUARY 18: Fedor Tyutin #51 of the Columbus Blue Jackets knocks down Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on February 18 2011 in Chicago Illinois. The Blue Jackets defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets are asking some of the fans in the community to highlight some of the more interesting home games on the upcoming 2012-2013 season schedule, and our next installment highlights one of the team's great traditions: the New Year's Eve Game. This year's installment pits the Jackets against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The matchup marks the first home tilt between the two clubs, and brings a bitter Central Division rival to town. Last season was a bit of a nightmarish blur for Columbus when Chicago lined up on the other side of the ice: six games, 0-6-0 record, and a combined goal margin of 31-10. And let's not forget the fact that their fans--in the last few seasons, at least--have come out of the woodwork to come to Nationwide and mock Columbus for their struggles. Nevermind that they, themselves, were a 59-point team in '03-'04, a 65-point team in '05-'06, and a 71-point team in '06-'07, finished 26th, and somehow won the lottery. But I digress...

Players to Watch:

  • Viktor Stalberg - Stalberg had a breakout season last year, with 22 goals and 21 assists in 79 games for the Hawks. The interesting part of that? In six games against Columbus, he had eight goals and two assists and was +11. He notched 25% of his points in 7.5% of his games. We might want to put a body on him.
  • Jonathan Toews - After a three-point game on February 18th against the Jackets last season, Toews played just one other regular season game, and had scored his last points of the season against Columbus.
  • Artem Anisimov - One of the newest Jackets has had minimal exposure to the Hawks, but has had some success. In four games, he has three points (1G, 2A) and looks to get minutes away from the Hawks' top skaters.
  • Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski - The Organized Chaos pairing has a combined two goals and eight assists in 27 career games against the Hawks. For Wiz, he has the added motivation of going against the team that drafted him, and then cut ties just before they made it to the top of the mountain.

How You Can Join The Battle

The great thing about this contest is that it's New Year's Eve, which is a great chance for the Columbus fans to come and drown out the polish sahhhsage eatin' Windy City'ers. If you've never been to a game on NYE, this is a great chance to start. Not only is the entire downtown area alive with activities, the game atmosphere is always exceptional. Shoot, even Stinger sports a tuxedo. Plus, the team has lots of great ticket package options.

And, the game ends just in time to head out into the night and ring in the new year!

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