No doubt, the buzz surrounding this game for the Blue Jackets is the absence of Scott Arniel. Todd Richards takes over behind the bench, and one wonders if there will be any kind of massive shift in philosophy coming. Even if so, it probably won't be tonight, as the team is playing their fourth straight road game (in six nights, even) and probably hasn't spent a lot of time on the ice tweaking.
In addition, Columbus is without Jeff Carter (separated shoulder). Derick Brassard looks to get first crack at centering the top line, but Richards has noted that he's not guaranteeing Brass will be there the whole game. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Blackhawks haven't been setting the world on fire themselves, seeing their division and conference lead evaporate during a 1-4-1 stretch. They now sit third behind Detroit and St. Louis in the Central, and will now be without Patrick Sharp for three to four weeks. Nonetheless, the Hawks have outscored the Jackets 15-6 in the three previous matchups. Good times.
Enjoy the game to the best of your collective ability.