The Blackhawks finally get a break tonight with a trip to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets for the final time this season. The Blackhawks have owned the BJs all season winning all five previous games by a combined 26-9. The Jackets are the worst team in the league and just ended a 4 game losing streak with a win over Calgary on Sunday. The four game skid came on the heels of a season high 4 game winning streak. Steve Mason gets the start in net for the BJs who has been terrible against the Hawks this season. Mason is 0-3 with a 5.42 goals against average and a .821 save percentage versus the Hawks. Grant Clitsome (giggle) is the only Jacket with 2 goals against the Blackhawks this year. Rick Nash has great career numbers versus Chicago, but he has been pretty quiet against the Hawks this season. In 5 games he only has 2 assists and is a -10, yikes!
Nobody enjoys seeing Columbus on the schedule more than Viktor Stalberg. 8 of his 18 goals this season has been at the Blue Jackets’ expense. Stalberg has scored the game winning goal in 4 of the 5 games against Columbus this year. It looks like Corey Crawford, who was named the NHL’s 2nd star of the week, will get the start tonight. If Crow starts tonight, I don’t think it is an automatic start for Ray Emery tomorrow. Crawford has gotten plenty of rest as of late and should be able to handle the back to back. No news on the injury front today. In a couple of random notes, Nick Leddy is celebrating his 21st birthday today and 1st round draft pick Mark McNeill has been called up to the Rockford IceHogs. Tonight has all the makings for a “trap” game. The Blackhawks have won 3 in a row, they have dominated the Jackets all year and the hated Canucks are waiting for the Hawks back in Chicago. The Blackhawks will need to keep their focus tonight to grab 2 points and pull within 2 of the Detroit Red Wings.