The Columbus Blue Jackets have won their last three games, and are undefeated in the month of March. Tonight they face their biggest challenge yet, taking on their old division rival the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago at 8PM.
Chicago sits in second place in the Western Conference Central Division with 86 points, and trails the leading St. Louis Blues by only two points. The Jackets, meanwhile, are sitting in the final Eastern Conference Wild Card spot with 69 points, and trail the New York Rangers, once again, by only one point. This means that with a win in Chicago tonight the Jackets could crack the Metropolitan Division top three and put themselves only one point behind the second place Philadelphia Flyers.
This game is a must-win for the Jackets if they want to put themselves in a good position going forward. They can’t fall too far behind. Then again, it seems like we say that about every game this time of year, but it’s true nonetheless. This game marks the start of a three-game road trip for Columbus, and they need to start it off on the right foot. This is the first game between Columbus and Chicago this season, but most Jackets fans know what to expect when these two teams meet up, given their multiple meetings in previous seasons when they were division rivals.
The Jackets roster could look a bit different today, as they acquired defenseman Nick Shultz at the trade deadline yesterday. It is unclear whether he will play tonight, but if so he could help plug the hole on defense left by the recent injuries of Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray. The only injury on Chicago’s roster is Marian Hossa who is out of commission due to an upper-body injury. Sergei Bobrovsky and Jackets fans certainly won’t miss him too much tonight as he has contributed 50 points in 57 games with the Hawks this season.
Given the importance of every win this time of year, look for the Jackets to bring a high-speed, perhaps desperate game tonight against Chicago. The meetings between these two have always been fast-paced and exciting in the past, and I doubt tonight will be any different. Go Jackets!