by John Carlisle, bluejackets.com
“Sweet Home Chicago” may express the sentiment of the Blues Brothers, but the Blue Jackets are looking to get comfortable there, as well.
Columbus (0-0-1) hits the road Saturday for its first away game of the season as they take on the Blackhawks (1-0-0) at 8:30 p.m. in the United Center. FSN Ohio will broadcast the game with “Ice Breaker,” the pregame show, airing 30 minutes before the faceoff.
The Jackets would like to bounce back from Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver.
In Chicago’s opener Thursday night, the Blackhawks outlasted the Nashville Predators, 8-6. The usually stingy goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin allowed six goals to Nashville, which bodes well for Rick Nash, David Vyborny, Fredrik Modin, Anson Carter, and the rest of the Jackets’ arsenal. Nash has collected 10 goals and nine assists in only 17 career games against Chicago.
Vyborny aspires to start the season with a goal streak, as he fired in one of two Blue Jackets goals Friday night. Mark Hartigan slapped in the other.
This weekend marks the first of 21 times the CBJ will play on back-to-back nights in 2006-07. When playing on consecutive days last year, they went 11-5-3 in first games and 8-11-0 in second games, a record they want to improve upon this year.
The second half of last season brought a significant improvement in the Jackets’ play away from home as they went 9-11-4 in their last 24 road games. They closed the preseason with a road win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Blue Jackets went 5-3-0 against Chicago last year and are 13-14-2 all-time against the Windy City Warriors. The two teams met twice in the preseason with the Blackhawks prevailing both times. Saturday marks the first of eight regular-season meetings between the two teams, both of whom made several changes in the offseason to try to lift themselves into the playoffs.
Columbus’ notable acquisitions include Modin and Carter while Chicago traded for right wing Martin Havlat. Havlat, who was a budding star for the Ottawa Senators, made his presence known with two goals and two assists in the Blackhawks’ win over Nashville.
The Jackets will return home after the game to face off at 7 p.m. Monday in Nationwide Arena against the Phoenix Coyotes.