Scott Howson in his natural habitat of failure

Scott Howson in his natural habitat of failure

Go ahead and accuse me of looking past a team and jinxing the Blackhawks but I’m not buying it. The Columbus Blue Jackets, ever the doormat of the Central division, did little to improve their already pathetic hockey team during the lockout. Gone is Rick Nash to the Rangers in return for Brandon Dubinsky, who many wanted in an Indian Head during Chicago’s struggles to fill their gap on the second line down the middle. Dubinsky has yet to dent the scoresheet in four games in a Columbus uniform; in fact the two NHL ready players the Jackets received for Nash have a total of one point through the young season.

Make no mistake about it, the Blackhawks should walk out of Nationwide Arena today with two points and not think twice.

As of this writing, neither team has announced a starting goalie. We should expect Ray Emery to get the nod for the Hawks today with a back-to-back on tap and despite the Red Wings own mediocre offseason, you’d think Joel Quenneville would want his #1 goalie to go tomorrow at home against a better team. The Jackets would likely send Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes having had Friday off and their next game coming on Monday. Bob is coming off a game against Colorado that saw him allow 4 goals on 26 shots, two of them sponsored by Charmin. Just barely a better performance than renowned sieve Steve Mason had against the Yotes the night prior (5 goals allowed on 42 shots). Comparing the Blackhawks netminding to the Jackets’ current situation makes Chicago’s options look rather favorable at this juncture.

Up front for the Jackets it’s been the aforementioned Dubinsky with Derek Dorsett and Derick Brassard expected to carry the load for the Jackets in 2013. Through four games they’ve managed to tally just three points and are a collective -7 between them. Scott Howson, leading candidate for the polished turd award along with Jay Feaster, has his overpaid treasure RJ Umburger managing the 2nd line with Anisimov and Nick Foligno. Their collective stat line nearly mirrors the top line’s. Compared to what the Hawks will be dressing in their own top six, the talent disparity is what you’d expect from a team that is already counting ping-pong balls for June. While it’s obviously not an all encompassing indicator, it should be noted that the Jackets do not currently have a player registering on the positive side of the plus/minus column.

The back end for the Jackets still features the prized signing of the Scott Howson regime, James Wisniewski, so we’ll encourage Brent Seabrook to keep his head up at all times this evening. He’s been skating with Jack Johnson again this year as that was the case after Columbus jettisoned Lance Bass enthusiast Jeff Carter to the Kings last winter. Past that their only addition to the blue line during the extended offseason was eternal nuisance Adrian Aucoin.

I would think we’ve established the prevailing theme here. The Columbus Blue Jackets remain the doormat of the Central division and the league. Treat them as such.

As for the Blackhawks, you know Viktor Stalberg has had this and each of the other three tilts against Columbus circled on his calendar since the schedule was released. He’s averaging 2.7 points per game in his last five run-ins with the hapless Jackets. It’d be nice to see that third line dent the scoresheet this season as they’ve been putting in solid work most of the campaign. I think we’d all like to see Marcus Kruger moved into that third line center role instead of Andrew Shaw because, well… Kruger is, ya know, a center. We can expect Shaw’s attention to be somewhat distracted with celebrated rectal itch Jared Boll on the ice for Columbus. This also means we should expect Brandon Bollig to dress again even though Jamal Mayers is more than capable of applying some Preparation H of his own.

The Hawks top six has been the straw that stirs the drink during their strong start. The competition they’re facing tonight is easily the weakest they’ve seen so far, and likely the least resistance they’ll see on their schedule this year. Continuing the success on the man advantage is expected tonight and the Hawks can pad their PK efficiency as well; though we’d appreciate staying out of the box as penalties should not be required for a team of this calibre.

As is the general feeling to anyone that isn’t a native Ohesian, get in and get the hell out of that state as quickly as possible. Pack two points in the overhead compartment and maybe bring some Yuengling back for the rest of us.

Let’s make it five.