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GAME DAY: at Chicago

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

  Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Chicago Blackhawks
RECORDS - CBJ: 11-25-5 (Road: 5-14-2), CHI: 24-13-5 (Home: 14-5-4)
WHEN: Jan. 10, 2012 - 8:30 p.m.   |   WHERE: United Center
FOX Sports Ohio (HD)  |  LISTEN: CD 102.5 FM &

GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:

The Chicago Blackhawks will be an angry team when they face off against the Blue Jackets tonight at United Center. The 2012 calendar year has not been friendly to the Blackhawks, who closed out 2011 with a thrilling 3-2 home ice win over the Detroit Red Wings and sat in the top spot of the Western Conference.

Since then, coach Joel Quenneville’s club has lost four straight games and its Central Division lead, falling to fifth overall in the conference standings. The surging St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings have overtaken the division lead from Chicago and now the Blackhawks are forced to get back on track, so not to risk losing more ground in the division hunt.

In the last meeting between these two teams, it was the Blackhawks who earned a 4-1 win at United Center on Dec. 26. Chicago got 37 saves in a solid performance by goaltender Corey Crawford and a pair of goals from Blue Jackets nemesis Viktor Stalberg for the second of four consecutive wins before the new year. Columbus carried the play in stretches during the course of that game but three second-period goals by the Blackhawks put them in a deficit they could not overcome.

While there is a sense of urgency on the Blackhawks side, there’s a similar feeling in the Blue Jackets locker room as well. Columbus plays its first game under interim head coach Todd Richards tonight after Scott Arniel was relieved of his coaching duties on Monday morning. Richards said he anticipates a spike in the team’s play initially and wants to see that level maintain itself as the season moves along. Taking the upcoming stretch one day at a time is another element he will stress to the players, and Richards wants them to only focus on tonight’s game.

The Blue Jackets have played well defensively against the Blackhawks’ top players this season and there will be one less of them in the lineup tonight. Patrick Sharp suffered an upper-body injury in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Red Wings on Sunday evening and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks of action.

Nash (14) Toews (22)
Prospal (21) Hossa (27)
Prospal (30) Hossa (44)
Dorsett (103) Carcillo (82)
MacKenzie (+8) Hossa (+20)
Sanford (6-8-3)
Crawford (15-10-3)
Sanford (2.49) Emery (2.72)
Sanford (.914) Emery (.906)
• The Blue Jackets are in the midst of playing eight of 10 and 10 of 14 on the road. Columbus has won two of its last four road games after going winless it’s previous three and 1-4-0 its previous five. The club kicked a skid that had seen the power play go 0-for-15 the previous six games by going 1-of-3 Sunday at Anaheim.

Rick Nash recorded his second multi-goal game in the last five games after scoring his team leading 13th and 14th goals of the season Sunday at Anaheim. He has scored 10 goals in the last 22 games after being held to four goals the first 19 games of the season. He has collected 10-7-17 the last 23 games after being held to 1-3-4 the previous 10 games.

• Tonight marks fourth of six meetings overall and third and final meeting at United Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks. Columbus is 28-30-8 all-time against Chicago, including a 13-17-3 mark at United Center. The Blackhawks have won all three meetings this season.

Vinny Prospal snapped an 11-game goalless skid Jan. 5 at San Jose and has goals in two of the last three games after scoring his ninth of the season Sunday at Anaheim. He added an assist for his first multi-point outing since picking up two assists Dec. 17 vs. Tampa Bay.


D - #8
  2 Goals
  18 Assists
  20 Points

• The smooth-skating 20-year-old out of Eden Prairie, Minn. was acquired by the Blackhawks in a Feb. 2010 trade with Minnesota that sent Cam Barker to the Wild. Quenneville gave Leddy a role on the Blackhawks blue line right away, and the youngster responded with a solid rookie season in 2010-11.

D Radek Martinek (concussion); indefinitely
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely
D James Wisniewski (ankle); indefinitely
C Mark Letestu (broken hand); indefinitely
C Jeff Carter (shoulder); indefinitely

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