Mar 14, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (51) clears the puck under pressure from Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
In the last 12 meetings between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks have won each and every one of them. That’s what’s called having a team’s number. However, with key injuries, and the playoff hungry Blue Jackets, tonight’s game could go either way.
Let’s see how they matchup.
[table id=28 /]
Statistically speaking, the Blackhawks have the advantage, in this one. However, those numbers aren’t totally indicative of the roster, that will be on the ice, for the Hawks, tonight. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have no doubt been two of the biggest contributors to the Hawks’ impressive numbers, this season. With both of them not playing tonight, it’s not as easy to predict how the Hawks will play, tonight. While the Hawks are a tad better that the Jackets in just about every category, the loss of Kane and Toews might be just what Columbus needs to gain an edge, on the defending champs.
The Blue Jackets are currently holding onto the 2nd and final Wild Card position, in the Eastern Conference, but several teams are right behind them. Tonight’s game and every game from here on out is of vital importance, to the Blue Jackets.
Columbus is lead, in points, by Ryan Johansen. The 4th overall pick, in the 2010 NHL draft, has had a breakout season, and should continue to be the center-piece of the Columbus attack, for years to come. Former-Hawk defenseman, James Wiznewski, has chipped in 46 points, in 69 games played, from the blueline. Olympian defenseman, Jack Johnson, is a more stay at home style defenseman, but he sees time on both the Power Play and Penalty Kill, for the Jackets. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov were both brought in 2 seasons ago, in the Rick Nash trade, with the New York Rangers, have become important parts of the Blue Jacket’s forward core.
In net, for the Blue Jackets, is reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky has followed his Vezina season, with a great .921 Save Percentage, in 53 games played.
The Blackhawks are off to a good start to their remainder of the season, without Kane and Toews, as they were able to defeat the Minnesota Wild, last night. With their place, in the playoffs seemingly locked up, as they will most likely be facing the Colorado Avalanche, with the Avs most likely holding home-ice advantage. The remaining 5 games will be interesting to see how other players step up, with the absence of Kane and Toews.
One of those players that will be interesting to watch will be Jeremy Morin. Morin has been a fringe player, for the last couple of seasons now, and he has played very well, in his limited playing time. Ben Smith will be in an expanded role, for the rest of the season, as he has earned it, playing very well in a lesser role, on the fully healthy Hawks roster. Also in an expanded role will be Andrew Shaw. Johnny Oduya will be out, once again, tonight, and it’s probably a good thing. Rest for the playoffs is a fantastic idea, for every player. Michal Rozsival will most likely be returning to the lineup, tonight. In all likelihood, Teuvo Teravainen will play tonight, but Coach Q might decide to scratch him, again. You never know.
In net, tonight, for the Hawks will most likely be Antti Raanta. Raanta has had his ups and downs, in his first season in North America as he has put up a less than stellar .901 Save Percentage, in 22 games played.
One team is fighting for their playoff lives, while the other has already clinched the playoffs and is trying to get healthy for it’s all but determined 1st round matchup. Will the Hawks continue their 12 game winning streak over the Blue Jackets tonight? All things considered, it doesn’t seem like they will, honestly, but they have to play the game to find out. Anything can happen.
Can the playoffs please start, soon?