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Avoid the Holes So You Sleep Fine: Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Preview

Having won 2 out of 3 since the All-Star break, the Blackhawks look to build on recent success against Columbus.

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Riley Stillman of the Chicago Blackhawks passes the puck away from Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period
Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have won two out of three games to resume the season after the All-Star Break and are taking advantage of their rescheduled games so far. In come the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team the Blackhawks have already defeated this season: a 4-2 victory on Jan. 11.

This will be Seth Jones’ first game against his former team, as he missed that January game while in COVID-19 protocol. The Blue Jackets acquired Jones in a trade for center Ryan Johansen in January of 2016 before trading him to the Blackhawks in a deal that included former Blackhawks top-ten pick Adam Boqvist. In 34 games this season, Boqvist has nine goals and eight assists — including a goal in Columbus’ last game on Tuesday. Jones has three goals and 27 assists in 45 games this season.

The Blue Jackets enter this contest after a crushing 6-2 defeat by the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Before that game, the Blue Jackets were on a three-game winning streak and will likely look to rebound quickly. However, much like the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets are all but eliminated from the playoffs: 16 points behind the Capitals with four games in hand for fourth in the Metropolitan Division and 11 points behind the Bruins — no games in hand — for the second wild card.

The Blue Jackets are led in points by captain Boone Jenner, who has 34 points — including 19 goals — in 47 games. Jakub Voracek has 32 points in 45 games — just two goals — and Oliver Bjorkstrand has 31 points in 45 games. No other Blue Jacket has more than 30 points and the Blackhawks also have just three players over 30 points (Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jones).

The Blue Jackets are seeing some less than stellar goaltending this season as well. Elvis Merzlikins, who has started 30 of the Blue Jackets’ games, is at a .904 save percentage and Joonas Korpisalo, who has started 14, at a .887.

However, the Blue Jackets’ goaltenders have had to deal with a lot this season, as Columbus has allowed the most expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5 (2.79) and have generated just 2.35 per 60 at 5-on-5.

The Blue Jackets’ power play is one of the worst in the league in generating quality chances (5.43 goals per 60, 30th) and their penalty kill has allowed the ninth-most expected goals per 60 (7.78).

Both of these teams may need a miracle to make the playoffs. But, before the trade deadline, another win could give the Blackhawks some more team morale and potentially get some of the depth scoring going that’s been so desperately needed this season.

While the Jets game was boring, it was successful for the Blackhawks, so don’t be surprised to see Brett Connolly and Erik Gustafsson remain in the lineup. Youngster Arvid Soderblom will get the start in net.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Blue Jackets

46.42% (28th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 47.8% (21st)

45.79% (27th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 45.73% (28th)

2.39 (30th) — Goals per game — 3.11 (13th)

3.31 (24th) — Goals against per game — 3.66 (30th)

49% (19th) — Faceoffs — 49% (18th)

20% (17th) — Power play — 17.1% (24th)

74.7% (28th) — Penalty kill — 80.5% (15th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Strome — Kane

DeBrincat — Dach — Hagel

Borgstrom — Slavin — Lafferty

Connolly — Carpenter — Entwistle

de Haan — S. Jones

C. Jones — Murphy

McCabe — Gustafsson

Fleury

Soderblom

Blue Jackets

Laine — Jenner — Bjorkstrand

Voracek — Sillinger — Chinakhov

Nyquist — Kuraly — Domi

Gaunce — Roslovic — Fix-Wolansky

Werenski — Peeke

Gavrikov — Boqvist

Beyreuther — Kukan

Merzlikins

Korpisalo

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Webstream: ESPN+