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PRE GAME: vs. Chicago

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



Every NHL team deals with its share of injuries throughout an 82-game schedule, but the Blue Jackets ended their Western Canadian road trip with two more important players on the shelf.

Interim head coach Todd Richards told the media today that James Wisniewski’s X-rays after taking a puck to the face came back negative, and there were no fractures to be found. However, Wisniewski began suffering from concussion-like symptoms on the flight home, so he is out of tonight’s lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Goaltender Curtis Sanford, who left the game in Calgary with a lower-body injury in the first period, tore a muscle in his leg, Richards said. Sanford is not expected to return this season, according to Richards, so it appears as if Allen York will finish the year with the Blue Jackets. He will back up Steve Mason tonight as Columbus takes on the Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena.

David Savard was recalled from Springfield (AHL) to take Wisniewski’s spot in the lineup, and he is expected to play with Aaron Johnson on the third defensive pair.

Here is the expected Blue Jackets lineup for tonight’s game:

Umberger Brassard Nash
Prospal Letestu Atkinson
Gillies Johansen Dorsett
Russell Boyce Boll
J. Johnson Nikitin
Lebda Moore
A. Johnson Savard

  1. Start on time: Richards warned about it this morning, but the Blue Jackets have to be ready to play tonight coming off an extended road trip. The first game back home is always a difficult one to play, but with the Blackhawks in town, Columbus needs a strong start against a team that loves to get on the board early.
  2. Spread the focus: Obviously, the individual success of Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg against Columbus this season makes him a target whenever these teams get together. But if you focus on one guy, Chicago’s offensive depth can make teams pay severely. The line matchups are crucial for the Blue Jackets in tonight’s game.
  3. Cash in on the power play: It has been a struggle of late for the Blue Jackets power play, but it’s not like they have not generated scoring chances. Their puck movement has been crisp, they are getting shots through from the point, and they’ve found a good mix of players that can make things happen. All it takes is for one to go in, and then the confidence grows again.

Richards on playing the Blackhawks: “It’s a divisional opponent, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say after that. Hockey players and athletes in general have a lot of pride in how they play. (Chicago) is a good team, and it will be a great challenge tonight. We’d like to finish on a good note versus them in the six games.”

Richards on what he expects in tonight’s game: “A good start. They’re going to challenge us right away. It’s a team that’s playing good and confident, and playing us, I don’t think there’s any fear in them of playing in our building going back to the games they’ve played against us. There are no excuses, we have to find a way to tonight regardless of legs and travel. There’s a way to win the game tonight and we have to find that way.”

Here are some tips for fans attending the game at Nationwide Arena tonight:

• Doors will open tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

• It’s your last $10,000 Tuesday! Tonight’s prize is perfect for lounging outside in Columbus’ summer-like weather – an iPad! Text TUESDAY to 95323 to enter and follow the prompts during the game.

• PUPPIES! The Canine Companions for Independence dogs from the 2012 Pucks and Paws Calendar are in-arena tonight. Stop by the Blue Jackets Foundation Kiosk at Section 111 to see them – and to pick up your newly discounted calendar for only $10.

• Speaking of pets, want to see one of these cuties on the boards for the March 30th game? Go vote for your favorite in Petland’s Favorite Pet contest.

• Love the song but have no idea what it is? Give @CBJ_DJ a follow. He live tweets all of Nationwide’s musical selections throughout the game.

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