Columbus Blue Jackets at Chicago Blackhawks Game Preview

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks is pressured by Lukas Sedlak #45 of the Columbus Blue Jackets as he advances the puck during a preseason game at the United Center on September 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks is pressured by Lukas Sedlak #45 of the Columbus Blue Jackets as he advances the puck during a preseason game at the United Center on September 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center tonight in a game that pits two of last year’s best regular season teams against each other.

Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks finished within the top four of the entire league last year when it came to points, but neither ended up doing much when the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators while the Blue Jackets couldn’t do much better, being bounced from the postseason in five games by the eventual champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But you wouldn’t have known that the two teams disappointed to end last season as both came out white hot for their respective season openers. Chicago hung 10 goals on the Penguins on Thursday in one of the most shocking results you’ll see in a season opener. Columbus didn’t go as hard as the Hawks did, but they still scored five goals and shut out the New York Islanders in Friday’s premier game.

Interview: Keith Schultz (BlackhawkUp.com)

Tonight, the Blackhawks will have a great opportunity to start the season with four points against two teams most people would predict will be near the top of the Metro Division at the end of the year. With both Pittsburgh and Columbus facing the Blackhawks on the second half of back-to-backs on the road, not many people would expect the Hawks to drop a point or two in those matchups.

Although the game was pretty much a breeze, the Blackhawks will have to deal with an injury already. Tanner Kero, their fourth-line center, will not play tonight due to an undisclosed injury suffered in the blowout win over Pittsburgh. That will bring in Tommy Wingels to center the last Chicago line.

The Blue Jackets will not start reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky tonight. Bob started the home opener on Friday, saving all 29 shots he faced. He will sit out the second half of this back-to-back, so 23-year-old Joonas Korpisalo will get the nod. The young Finn started 13 games last season, finishing with a 7-5-1 record, a 2.88 GAA and .905 SV%.

The full lineups for the teams are below.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Panarin — Wennberg — Atkinson

Milano — Foligno (C) — Bjorkstrand

Dubois — Dubinsky (A) — Calvert

Hannikainen — Sedlak — Dalpe

Werenski — Jones

Johnson — Savard

Murray — Carlsson

Korpisalo

Bobrovsky

Chicago Blackhawks

Saad — Toews — Panik

Hartman — Schmaltz — Kane

Sharp — Ansimov — Debrincat

Bouma — Wingels — Hayden

Keith — Seabrook

Kempny — Murphy

Forsling — Rutta

Crawford

Forsberg

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Realistically, starting the backup goalie against a team that just scored 10 goals on the reigning world champs is not a recipe for victory. So getting at least a point would be a great result. And even if that doesn’t happen, you really just want Korpi to gain some confidence and experience while no one gets injured.