Chicago Blackhawks Eye on the Enemy: Columbus Blue Jackets
By Juliana Nikac
The Chicago Blackhawks and Duncan Keith take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena tonight.
Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks spoiled Corey Crawford’s return to the net with a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Despite the team’s poor effort, the goalie looked fantastic, stopping 27 of 31 shots.
Tonight, Crawford will get a chance to earn his first win since December 17, 2017. Chicago is taking on a Columbus Blue Jackets team stacked with offense, including former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin.
Before tonight’s game, we spoke with Lansing Murphy, the Blue Jackets expert at Union and Blue.
Juliana Nikac (JN): How has Zach Werenski looked so far, given his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery?
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Lansing Murphy (LM): Z is looking good. His skating is as fantastic as ever but he is still just a shade hesitant to jump into the offensive play. In the previous two years, he looked like a forward diving down into the offensive zone, getting involved below the goal line. We haven’t seen that as much this year.
I think that has a bit to do with the recovery, but more importantly, he is not playing with Seth Jones who is dealing with a knee injury. I think his pairing with David Savard has more to do with the slight change in play than the shoulder.
JN: Why has Sergei Bobrovsky had a rough start to the season?
LM: It really hasn’t been that bad for Bob. The team was beat by a good Carolina Hurricanes team where he made 33 saves on 36 shots. Sure, he gave up 8 goals to Tampa Bay but that was not his fault. The team played terribly in front of Bob and he was blitzed all night. No goalie in the world had a chance that night. He’s coming off a nice game against the Flyers where he kept the team in the game early in the first with some big saves.
Bob also generally starts a little slow, even in Vezina seasons. No one is really that worried about Bob’s start.
JN: Who on the Jackets has surprised you the most so far?
LM: Anthony Duclair for sure. The Jackets signed the forward to a league minimum contract this offseason and he as already proven that worth plus some. He started on the fourth line and has pushed his way up the lineup and is on the second line now and top unit power play. Shameless plug, check out this article breaking down his goal from the Flyers game on Thursday where he scored the goal of the year up to this point.
JN: Which Blackhawks player should everyone look out for?
LM: I thought you guys were the Blackhawks insiders!?!? I always love watching how Duncan Keith plays in his own zone and his new partner Henri Jokiharju has me intrigued. It’s not the flashiest thing to keep your eyes on but I think if this pair can be beat, the Jackets will likely get two points tonight.
JN: What is your prediction for tonight’s game?
LM: The Jackets are playing progressively better and Bob is looking good in net. The team is playing its final game without Seth Jones and they are feeling particularly driven. The Jackets will win this one 5-3 with an empty-netter from Josh Anderson.
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Other than his awful prediction, it was great to talk to Lansing and receive his analysis.