The Columbus Blue Jackets return to home ice tonight to face the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena. The Jackets are coming off of their first ever win in the City of Brotherly Love last night, when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Likewise, the Hawks are coming off a win last night, theirs over the Minnesota Wild by the score of 3-2.
The Blackhawks are in a pretty solid playoff position. They hold the third spot in the Central Division, with their next closest competitor being 11 points behind them. The Jackets, however, are still very much in the fight. The win last night certainly helped, but every two points matter right now. They are in the final Wild Card spot, one point behind Detroit who holds the first spot. The Jackets trail the third place Flyers by two points, and since the Flyers don’t play today, have the chance to tie them up with a win tonight. On the back end, Toronto is chasing the Jackets for the Wild Card spot with 84 points, only one point behind the Jackets’ 85. Two points tonight would be huge to say the least.
There is some good news and bad news today from the Jackets locker room. Defenseman Ryan Murray makes his return from a knee injury tonight, much sooner than expected. Murray has had a great rookie season, and it will be a big help to have his presence returned to the blue line tonight. The bad news, however, is that Jackets forward Nick Foligno is out of play tonight due to an injury sustained last night in Philly. He is likely to miss the rest of the regular season.
More good news for the Jackets comes from the Blackhawks room. They will be playing tonight without Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Johnny Oduya. This leaves significant room for the Jackets to take advantage of, but they’ll have to show up and play their best. The last outing between these two teams is one Jackets fans would like to forget, and the team will have to overcome that performance and give it their all tonight.
Hopefully the added presence of Ryan Murray will help the Jackets show up ready to win tonight. The Jackets won a big one last night, and it would be nice to ride the positive wave into the weekend. Go Jackets!