The Jackets take on the Blackhawks again this evening, and they are icing a very solid lineup:
Nash - Brassard - Huselius
Modin - Umberger - Voracek
Torres - Peca - Boll
Picard - Novotny - Murray
Hejda - Commodore
Tyutin - Klesla
Russell - Backman
The top six forwards remain intact, which is refreshing to say the least. In year's past there was so much shuffling in the preseason, that no chemistry was developed, leading to slow starts out of the gate for the forwards. Torres and Peca make their debuts tonight, and will look to prove they are in game shape. Joining them on the third line is Jared Boll, who is still on a bit of a leash in terms of the fisticuffs. The fourth line is a very interesting one, with Alex Picard looking to finally cement a spot in the lineup, Jiri Novotny is the center, and he is going to gun for his third goal of the preseason, he still leads the team with two. Andrew Murray joins his top competition for the fourth line LW spot in Picard.
This defense could prove to be the opening night group, providing the bottom pairing can show that they are defensively responsible enough together. Russ and Backman are both offensive-minded blueliners.
Pascal Leclaire will go the distance in goal.
The Chicago lineup is as follows:
Forwards: Jack Skille, Jesse Boulerice, Kevyn Adams, Troy Brouwer, Igor Makarov, Pascal Pelletier, Craig Adams, Kris Versteeg, Petri Kontiola, Adam Burish, Evan Brophey, Ben Eager.
Defense: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Sopel, Jordan Hendry, Matt Walker, Doug Janik, Aaron Johnson.Goaltenders: Cristobal Huet, Nikolai Khabibulin
Chances are good that Khabibulin won't be in the lineup at all, as he has been placed on waivers by the 'Hawks, a prelude to a trade, no doubt. Look for Niemi or Crawford to back up Huet.