Blackhawks News

BJs for everyone: Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets preview

By Jeffrey Bartl

"As we go down to a short number of games, when you get inside of five it might be clear where you might go with one guy. We want both guys confident. They both deserve an opportunity to keep playing and keep getting a chance to be the guy.    — Coach Q-Stache"

The plethora of Blackhawks’ injuries recently provided a welcomed relief from the on-going debate between  Cristobal Huet and  Antti Niemi. It’s been rather easy to ignore the elephant wearing goaltender gear standing in the corner. But with 10 games left before the second season begins in the Second City, we can no longer ignore the inevitable.

Coach Q begins the crucial stretch tonight with Huet, who is coming off the flu and hasn’t played since a heart-breaking, last-second loss 12 days ago to the Philadelphia Flyers. While I believe Huet was doomed from the beginning and deserved better from the fans and media this season, Q-Stache is simply playing the Good Guy role and not saying the wrong thing to the public. It’s pretty easy to see the playoff job is Niemi’s to lose at this point — and I don’t think he will.

Nevertheless, the Frenchman gets the nod tonight against the extremely disappointing Columbus Blue Jackets, who would be better suited officially shortening their nickname to BJs. You know, because they’ve been sucking all season long. Get it? It’s funny ha-ha.

Here’s what you need to know going into tonight:

  • The Blackhawks are 4-0 against the BJs this season with two shootout wins. Huet picked up three of those victories, including a 36-save shutout Jan. 14 at the United Center.
  • Speaking of goaltenders, how about the sophomore slump  Steve Mason has experienced this season? After going 33-20-7 with a 2.29 GAA which earned him the Calder Trophy last season, Mason is a meager 17-23-8 with a holy-shit-are-you-serious? 3.18 GAA. His .896 save percentage has BJs fans thinking  Evan Turner would be better suited to wear the gear.
  • Columbus’ highest-paid metrosexual,  Rick Nash, leads the BJs with 59 points, which would rank fifth on the Blackhawks.  Patrick Kane,  Duncan Keith,  Patrick Sharp and  Jonathan Toews all have more or as many points as the faux-hawked Canadian.
  • The ‘Hawks and BJs come in with the 11th- and 12th-ranked power play units, respectively. However, Columbus’ penalty kill ranks 20th in the NHL. What does that mean? The Blackhawks better score a power play goal before I advise Q-Stache to start declining penalties.
  • Before you begin wandering aimlessly around the dial, tonight’s 6pm puck-drop will be televised on CSN+, which should be CLTV locally.

I’m sure there’s more stuff you should know, but I’m tired. GO ‘HAWKS!

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