That’ll be the question as the Blackhawks welcome the Blue Jackets, a .500 team, Friday to the United Center, dropping the puck on four home games in seven days. The Blackhawks need to stay hot, but the Blue Jackets are a team that doesn’t allow much offensive fanfare, and whose defense will make it hard for Chicago to score goals.
At the same time, however, the Blue Jackets have one of the worst goaltending tandems in the league as Joonas Korpisalo owns a .903 save percentage in five starts and Elvis Merzlikins, his backup, has a .825 save percentage, allowing seven goals to the Penguins in his sole start this season. Columbus is a far cry away from Sergei Bobrovsky’s two Vezina Trophy seasons.
A lot of change has happened to the Blue Jackets since the last time the Blackhawks saw them. After making multiple deals at the deadline to improve their team, Columbus swept one of the best regular season teams of all time in the 2018-19 Lightning in the first round of the playoffs before losing in the second round to the Bruins.
This offseason, they lost Bobrovsky to the Panthers, watched Artemi Panarin head to the Rangers, Matt Duchene (one of those deadline acquisitions) departed for the Predators, Ryan Dzingel to the Hurricanes, and have essentially just been decimated as a team in terms of star power. However, the Blue Jackets still have a lot in the tank.
Seth Jones and Zach Werenski remain two of the best young defensemen in the league. The Blue Jackets have gotten multiple goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand, three of their top forwards.
But this is a team that wins low-scoring games, and if the Blackhawks’ offense is able to push Columbus into their own zone, they’ll see a lot of great scoring chances with lackluster netminding.
Tale of the tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Blue Jackets
47.7% (24th) — Corsi For — 49.7% (16th)
47.8% (24th) — Faceoffs — 47.4% (27th)
3.00 (16th) — Goals per game — 2.33 (29th)
3.25 (17th) — Goals against per game — 3.33 (20th)
22.2% (13th) — Power play — 16.7% (23rd)
61.5% (30th) — Penalty kill — 73.7% (22nd)
DeBrincat — Toews — Caggiula
Shaw — Strome — Kane
Saad — Kampf — Kubalik
Nylander — Carpenter — Smith
Keith — Murphy
Maatta — Seabrook
De Haan — Gustafsson
Nyquist — Dubois — Atkinson
Foligno — Wennberg — Bjorkstrand
Texier — Jenner — Bemstrom
Milano — Nash — Lilja
Werenski — Jones
Murray — Nutivaara
Gavrikov — Savard
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Live stream: ESPN+, NBC Sports app