GAME DAY: at Chicago
Jackets kick off busy post Christmas schedule with visit to Windy City
WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio (HD) | LISTEN: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com
GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:
|Unlike other notable NHL playoff teams from a year ago, the Chicago Blackhawks have not had to deal with a slow start to their season or any prolonged losing streaks in their first 35 games. They have played one of the heaviest schedules to this point, but started fast out of the gate (7-2-2 in October) and have used a recent winning streak to catapult up the Western Conference standings.
With 48 points, the Blackhawks entered the Christmas break as the league’s top team and are one point ahead of the defending champion Boston Bruins. They have won four straight games at the United Center and tonight’s game against the Blue Jackets is the second contest of a five-game homestand. As they hold a four-point advantage over the surging St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, the Blackhawks are in a position to strengthen their No. 1 spot but will face tough opponents in Los Angeles, Detroit and Edmonton later in the week.
The Blue Jackets entered the third period of an Oct. 29 game in Chicago firmly entrenched in a battle for two points, but the Blackhawks rallied on the heels of a monster game from Viktor Stalberg to win 5-2 in Allen York’s first career start. Chicago was also the opponent at Nationwide Arena just two weeks later as the Blue Jackets were searching for answers following a loss in Philadelphia. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel went back to the drawing board with their play in all three zones and though Columbus lost the game, many of the things they worked on carried over to produce a solid stretch of hockey.
As they look to get back on track tonight and start a new chapter of their season, the Blue Jackets are looking at a Blackhawks squad getting balanced scoring across the lineup.
The hot hand in goal of late has been Ray Emery, who won the backup job in training camp from young goaltender Alexander Salak. The veteran Emery has posted a 9-2-2 record so far this season.