BLUE JACKETS AT BLACKHAWKS
THURSDAY, 8 P.M.
FINAL: CHI 6, CBJ 1
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: That was definitely a second period to flush away if you're the Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks hit another gear in the middle frame and scored three times, taking a 5-1 lead into the third period at United Center. Sergei Bobrovsky's night was done after Bryan Bickell made it 4-1 with 7:31 left in the period, the second delayed penalty goal for Chicago on the night. The Hawks have five goals on 22 shots and they've controlled the puck for the majority of the game, making it extremely difficult for the Jackets to get anything going. More bad news on defense for Columbus, too: Nikita Nikitin suffered an upper body injury late in the first period and will not return to the game.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets needed a goal to get settled into this one but they were a little uncertain in the early going. The Blackhawks, who haven't been playing their best hockey since the Olympic break, came out flying in the first period and put a ton of pressure on Columbus' reconfigured defense. They scored early on a redirect by Brandon Bollig that was born from a Jackets turnover high in the zone, but got it back on Ryan Johansen's 25th goal of the season at 7:46 of the period. They were caught up-ice late in the first, though, and it resulted in Chicago's second goal; Sheldon Brookbank sent a long bank pass off the boards and up to Andrew Shaw, who was waiting at the offensive blueline. He had a partial break and went top shelf on Bobrovsky to regain the lead for Chicago. That's where we stand after 20...shots are 8-7 favoring the Jackets.
WATCH: Ryan Johansen 1st period goal
GAME AUDIO: Ryan Johansen ties it up in the first. | LISTEN
WATCH: Matt Frattin speaks with Bobby Mac ahead of his Jackets debut.
WATCH: Boone Jenner speaks pre-game as the Blue Jackets prepare to take on Chicago.
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards holds his pre-game press conference at the United Center.
UPDATE (12:45 PM): Todd Richards just met with the media here in Chicago and provided some updates. Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal tonight, and Richards said he expects both Nick Schultz and Matt Frattin in the lineup this evening. Schultz, who played under Richards for two seasons in Minnesota, will pair up with Dalton Prout on the Jackets' blueline.
INSIDE EDGE: Game day in Chicago edition!
UPDATE (11:40 AM): Here were the Jackets' lines on their first run-through during the morning skate...
Jenner - Johansen - Horton
Foligno - Anisimov - Umberger
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
MacKenzie - Letestu - Frattin/Tropp/Comeau
Defense pairs have shuffled a bit this morning.
UPDATE (11:20 AM): Blue Jackets defenseman Nick Schultz, acquired yesterday, is en route to Chicago and is slated to arrive this afternoon. There's a chance he plays tonight but nothing has been decided upon yet.
UPDATE (11:15 AM): Matt Frattin is here with the Blue Jackets and they're about to take the ice at United Center for their morning skate. No word yet on if he will play tonight.
UPDATE (11:00 AM): Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal tonight for the Blackhawks.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets have arrived in chilly Chicago and are set to kick off their three-game trip tomorrow night at the United Center. The Blue Jackets are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. (local time) morning skate on Thursday, and we'll have game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Blackhawks, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets wanted to address their blueline at Wednesday's trade deadline and they did so, adding veteran defenseman Nick Schultz in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. In addition, Columbus sent Marian Gaborik to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Matt Frattin and two draft picks and both players are expected to join the team in Chicago.
Whether they draw into the lineup on Thursday remains to be seen, but you'll know it first either way. Look for Sergei Bobrovsky - who was very good against Dallas the other night - to start in goal against the Blackhawks.
Now that all the trade deadline buzz has tapered off, it's back to business for the Blue Jackets as they sit in playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
They sit in playoff position, yes, but it's not a comfortable spot. Columbus holds a one-point edge on Detroit for the second wild card spot in the East, and the Red Wings were one of the teams (like the Jackets) who addressed a need at the deadline.
The Blue Jackets have not seen the defending Stanley Cup champions this season, and that's an oddity considering the number of years these two teams went head-to-head in the Central Division. Some of their match-ups were memorable, others not so much, but the games don't lack any energy when the Jackets and Blackhawks hook up at the Madhouse on Madison.
The Blackhawks are as you'd expect them: quick in transition, gifted offensively, deep on defense and they work hard to support goaltender Corey Crawford. They didn't do much tweaking before the deadline, but they did add center Peter Regin from the New York Islanders in the days before the deadline, and by all accounts, he's beginning to find a place in the Chicago lineup.
One player the Blackhawks will be without is Marian Hossa, who suffered an upper-body injury in Chicago's last game is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS
SATURDAY, 8 P.M.