Another week, another schedule showcase to get us looking into the upcoming season for those “must watch” games. This Friday, we’re focusing on the New Year’s Eve match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks. Though our team travels to Chi-town for their first game of the season, this game on December 31st will mark the first time we see Toews, Kane and company in our own house. And it promises to be a doozy.
Read on to hear the Union Blue’s thoughts on the game, the match-ups, a key prospect and why we NEED to be at the game.
GAME OVERVIEW: (from Canadan82)
The New Year’s Eve game always brings a string of emotions to Nationwide Arena. Last year, we watched as an early lead fell victim to the Washington Capitals explosive offense. This year proves to be a similarly difficult task with the Chicago Blackhawks in town, who have had their fair share of success in Columbus. Noting records serves little purpose here, as most who do follow these two teams are well aware of the dominance held by Chicago. But Columbus is no longer a team of maybes. They will need to match up with impressive skills like Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seabrook. For Columbus this year, roles will be defined, and inches will be earned in every corner of the ice. What will begin as a showcase of talent may very well end in the continuance of a long budding rivalry.
KEY MATCH-UPS: (from TheCoach)
The Blackhawks game will provide some very interesting insight into how the Blue Jackets season is shaping up. By New Years Eve, we’ll know more about how the team is performing and what type of identity they have been able to forge. With Pat Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and company, the Hawks have the much sought after quick strike ability. The Blue Jackets will have to grind them down defensively, limit their mistakes, and capitalize on every opportunity. In net, Corey Crawford is still something of a question mark, and a flurry of chances early in the game could rattle him. This game could also provide a benchmark for the development of James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson. If ‘Controlled Chaos’ can provide offense and hold Toews, Kane and company in check, we’ll know they’re on the right track.
PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT: Brandon Saad-CHI (from CBJProspects)
Brandon Saad was the Hawks fourth pick in last years draft(43rd overall) but started last season in Chicago playing two games with them before being sent back to Saginaw of the OHL. Saad was 3rd on the Spirit in scoring with 76 points in 44 games. He then went on to score 17 more points in 12 playoff games before returning to Chicago and playing in two NHL playoff games – picking up a assist. Saad is a 6’1″ 202 winger from Pittsburgh and is expected by most to jump right into the Hawks top six playing either with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. At the Blackhawks summer prospect camp, the team tried Saad at center in scrimmages, hoping he can fill their long-vacant second line center position. Saad also, mainly because he is from Pittsburgh, had the distinction of being the player who announced the Hawks 1st round pick at the 2012 NHL draft.
WHY WE’RE JOINING THE BATTLE: (from AlisonL)
We’ve already talked about quite a few traditional CBJ rivals in our schedule showcases this year, but few teams incite my ire like the Blackhawks right now. The final showdown between these two teams last spring brought an unbearable loss with an almost total lack of effort from the home team aside from Derek Dorsett attempting to rile up some energy with an ill advised fight against John Scott late in the 3rd and a “never say die” game from James Wisniewski who blocked two shots, had to go to the locker room, and returned to the ice to battle on even though the game was already decided. Additionally, Nationwide Arena was almost overrun with chippy Chicago fans who were, well, insufferable. This match up occurs on New Year’s Eve and this scheduling also adds the heightened emotion of the game being many of our NYE activity – a win starts the new year right, a loss….stings. Between the collapse that occurred last year versus the Caps on NYE and the bad taste that is still in my mouth for Chicago – this game is a MUST ATTEND for Jackets fans. There is much to avenge and I want to be there to watch our team do just that – cheering all the way.