Well, nothing cures your ills after a horrendous road trip like matching up with the hottest team with one of the best offenses in the game right now. Let's not also forget: these teams played six times last season. The Jackets' record? 0-6-0, outscored 31-10. Hooray!! We're like the hapless field mouse traipsing along as the Hawk swoops down silently from overhead.
The Blackhawks are hitting on all cylinders right now, as their offensive skill has been sharp thus far. They're pouncing on the sloppy defense being played all around the league right now, and converting those chances into points. They're scoring on the Power Play, they're killing penalties, and they're just making other teams pay for mistakes.
Which has gotta make you feel good after you've watched the last three Jackets games, no?
About the only bright spot for Columbus has been their penalty killing, but you get the feeling that if they allow themselves to be short-handed so many times again, they're going to get burned tonight.
The Jackets are starting Steve Mason tonight in goal, and so they simply can't let the Hawks get so many chances like they let the Coyotes get the other night in Mason's first start of the season.
Based on what we've heard from morning skate, it looks like Cam Atkinson is sitting again tonight with a lower body injury. My guess is that Matt Calvert will skate with Ryan Johansen and Vinny Prospal, as the combo was the only line bringing any kind of funk on Thursday. Also, Colton Gillies will get his first start, and Derek MacKenzie is a scratch; my assumption is that Gillies and Mark Letestu will join Jared Boll on the fourth line.
Look, I hate to be a doom-and-gloom guy (because, frankly, this team is currently playing right around what my initial expectations were), but it doesn't look good tonight.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(1-2-1, 3 Points; 5th division, 12th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Derick Brassard||Derek Dorsett|
|Brandon Dubinsky||Artem Anisimov||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||Ryan Johansen||Vinny Prospal|
|Colton Gillies||Mark Letestu||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Nikita Nikitin|
|Jack Johnson||James Wisniewski|
|John Moore||Adrian Aucoin|
(4-0-0, 8 Points; 1st Division, 1st Conference)
|Brandon Saad||Jonathan Toews||Marian Hossa|
|Patrick Sharp||Dave Bolland||Patrick Kane|
|Bryan Bickell||Andrew Shaw||Viktor Stalberg|
|Brandon Bollig||Marcus Kruger||Michael Frolik|
|Duncan Keith||Brent Seabrook|
|Nick Leddy||Michal Rozsival|
|Johnny Oduya||Niklas Hjalmarsson|
01/26/13 - Chicago at Columbus
02/24/13 - Columbus at Chicago
03/01/13 - Columbus at Chicago
03/14/13 - Chicago at Columbus
Head to Head
Chicago Columbus 4.25 (3) GPG 1.50 (28) 2.50 (t11) GAPG 3.50 (t24) 30.0% (7) PP% 16.7% (t18) 91.7% (3) PK% 87.5% (6) Marian Hossa, 5 G leader six tied, 1 Patrick Kane, 5 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 3 Patrick Kane, 7 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin, 4 Brandon Bollig, 12 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 19 3-0-0 Road/Home 0-0-1 vs. St. Louis, W 3-2 Last Game @ Colorado, L 4-0 4-0-0 Last 10 1-2-1
- Wherefore Art Thou, Goals? - We're starting to see signs of what we all feared: this Jackets club has the will, but not the skill. They've scored just six goals in regulation in four games. That's just not going to cut it. The problem is that no one really knows from where to expect the offense to come. Atkinson? He's knicked up. Johansen is showing himself to be a playmaker, but with no finishers it's going to hurt his chances. Prospal is what he is. We've seen flashes from Anisimov. This club is going to have to get some consistent offensive effort from a few guys each night, and some guys who have been missing (Brassard, Umberger, Dubinsky) are going to have to start putting pucks in the net. There's no Rick Nash to carry the load anymore.
- Put a #@&*ing Body on Stalberg! - No disrespect intended to the player, but if I have to watch Viktor Stalberg light us up AGAIN all season this season, I'm going to scream. In 12 career games against the Jackets, he has 10/2/12. 10 goals! He had 8/2/10 last season in six games against us! Seriously. Put a body of this guy!
- Discipline - It sounds like such a simple concept, but this club has been incredibly undisciplined in the first four games. Bad passes and turnovers in their own zone, and tons of awful, awful penalties. They've been saved (relatively speaking) on this latter part because their PK has actually been pretty good thus far. Tonight's going to be a different animal, with a Blackhawks team that's hot with tons of offensive skill to burn coming in. The Jackets just can't keep giving them free chances, or else we're in for a long, LONG night.
If nothing else, it's another chance for the hometown faithful to head out on a Saturday night and cheer on the boys i blue. Seriously. There are always too many obnoxious Hawks fans in our building. Let's do something about it.