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Jackets Travel to Chicago to Face Injury-Ravaged Blackhawks

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus and Chicago have a lot in common right now.

The Blackhawks slow start his season is intensified by the superb play of the Chicago Bears in the NFL. Ditto for the Jackets, who are a few games under .500, standing in the huge shadow in the Columbus area that the OSU Buckeyes quest for the National Championship has created.

With the Buckeyes win over Northwestern on Saturday in the rearview, Columbus fans can turn their attention back on the Blue Jackets tonight.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the football team in their city plays their games on Sunday. Most of Chicago will be rooting on the first-place Bears as they travel to New York for a gigantic NFC battle with the Giants on Sunday night. The under card of that heavy weight fight will be tonight’s Blackhawks-Blue Jackets game, that pits two teams in search of some wins.

Chicago and Columbus will face each other in a Central Division match up at 7 p.m., live from the United Center in Chicago, Ill. Coverage on FSN Ohio will begin with Ice Breaker at 6:30 p.m. The game will also be broadcast in HD on FSN Ohio HD.

Chicago’s slow start can be traced to a plethora of injuries that has turned a high-scoring team that averaged 4.2 goals over the first six games of the season into a team that has been shut out in three of their last eight games.

Prized off-season acquisition Martin Havlat (7-6-13 in seven games) sprained his ankle and has not played since. Then down went center Michal Handuz to a season-ending knee injury.

Then Chicago lost both of their goaltenders, back-up Patrick Lalime (back surgery) and starter Nikolai Khabibulin (broken finger). The result was losing eight out of the last nine games, mainly caused by an inept offense that is scoring just 1.8 goals per game, being shutout three times.

In the net, Brian Boucher has posted a goose egg in the win column since taking over in net, posting an 0-7-0 mark.

The Jackets also started hot out of the game, going 2-0-1 over their first three games of the season. Then a four-game losing skid dropped their record to 2-4-1. The club has gone 3-4-0 over their last seven to bring their season record to 5-8-1 on the young season, good for third in the Central Division.

The Jackets won an important match up at St. Louis on Thursday, before falling to Edmonton at home on Friday night, 4-1. In that game, Anson Carter scored the lone Jackets tally which was the club’s 1000th goal as a franchise.

Columbus has played four games since losing Duvie Westcott, who led all Blue Jacket blueliners in points with 3-5-8 in 11 games. The club is already playing with out the services of defenseman Bryan Berard, who is shelved till January after back surgery.

All-time leading scorer David Vyborny continues to score at a point-per-game pace, leading the club with 4-10-14. Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, meanwhile, are tied with the team-lead in goals with four a piece.

In between the pipes is second-year goalie Pascal Leclaire, who has posted five wins on the young season. Columbus went 5-3-0 against the Blackhawks last season and is 1-0-0 vs. the Blackhawks this year.

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