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CBJ Schedule Showcase: New Year's Eve

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

It's our third CBJ Schedule Showcase, and this week, we're looking forward to ringing in 2013 with two points as the Blue Jackets take on the Chicago Blackhawks. As you can see from the photo above, we go WAY back with these guys (they were our first regular-season opponent in franchise history).

We all know this is an intense rivalry and over the years, there have been some absolute classics played between these two clubs. Antoine Vermette's thrilling OT winner at Nationwide as the Jackets marched toward the playoffs in 2009? Awesome. Nik Zherdev going coast-to-coast with under 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the game? One of the more exciting moments in this Central Division series.

As the 2012-13 season draws closer, we've once again called upon the Blue Jackets community to share their insights on particular games on the schedule. This week it's New Year's Eve at Nationwide Arena against those familiar Blackhawks, and we've got the goods on this must-see game.

The Union Blue shared the following about this divisional showdown:

Another week, another schedule showcase to get us looking into the upcoming season for those “must watch” games. This Friday, we’re focusing on the New Year’s Eve match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks. Though our team travels to Chi-town for their first game of the season, this game on December 31st will mark the first time we see Toews, Kane and company in our own house. And it promises to be a doozy.

Read on to hear the Union Blue’s thoughts on the game, the match-ups, a key prospect and why we NEED to be at the game.

GAME OVERVIEW: (from Canadan82)

The New Year’s Eve game always brings a string of emotions to Nationwide Arena. Last year, we watched as an early lead fell victim to the Washington Capitals explosive offense. This year proves to be a similarly difficult task with the Chicago Blackhawks in town, who have had their fair share of success in Columbus. Noting records serves little purpose here, as most who do follow these two teams are well aware of the dominance held by Chicago. But Columbus is no longer a team of maybes. They will need to match up with impressive skills like Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seabrook. For Columbus this year, roles will be defined, and inches will be earned in every corner of the ice. What will begin as a showcase of talent may very well end in the continuance of a long budding rivalry.

KEY MATCH-UPS: (from TheCoach)

The Blackhawks game will provide some very interesting insight into how the Blue Jackets season is shaping up. By New Years Eve, we’ll know more about how the team is performing and what type of identity they have been able to forge. With Pat Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and company, the Hawks have the much sought after quick strike ability. The Blue Jackets will have to grind them down defensively, limit their mistakes, and capitalize on every opportunity. In net, Corey Crawford is still something of a question mark, and a flurry of chances early in the game could rattle him. This game could also provide a benchmark for the development of James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson. If ‘Controlled Chaos’ can provide offense and hold Toews, Kane and company in check, we’ll know they’re on the right track.

Read the full Schedule Showcase RIGHT HERE on The Union Blue!


Dan Parker from The Cannon (SB Nation) offered his own take on the New Year's Eve tilt:

Players to Watch:

Viktor Stalberg - Stalberg had a breakout season last year, with 22 goals and 21 assists in 79 games for the Hawks. The interesting part of that? In six games against Columbus, he had eight goals and two assists and was +11. He notched 25% of his points in 7.5% of his games. We might want to put a body on him.

Jonathan Toews - After a three-point game on February 18th against the Jackets last season, Toews played just one other regular season game, and had scored his last points of the season against Columbus.

Artem Anisimov - One of the newest Jackets has had minimal exposure to the Hawks, but has had some success. In four games, he has three points (1G, 2A) and looks to get minutes away from the Hawks' top skaters.

Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski -
The Organized Chaos pairing has a combined two goals and eight assists in 27 career games against the Hawks. For Wiz, he has the added motivation of going against the team that drafted him, and then cut ties just before they made it to the top of the mountain.

How You Can Join The Battle:

The great thing about this contest is that it's New Year's Eve, which is a great chance for the Columbus fans to come and drown out the polish sahhhsage eatin' Windy City'ers. If you've never been to a game on NYE, this is a great chance to start. Not only is the entire downtown area alive with activities, the game atmosphere is always exceptional. Shoot, even Stinger sports a tuxedo. Plus, the team has lots of great ticket package options.

And, the game ends just in time to head out into the night and ring in the new year!

Read the full Schedule Showcase at The Cannon RIGHT HERE.
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