The Columbus Blue Jackets do not get paid in beer and pizza because they are a professional hockey team. Although there are times when it looks like the Jackets can’t really compete. Last night Columbus had a strong start as the Blackhawks still had visions of sugar plum fairies in their heads. In the end, the more talented club skated away with two points as the Hawks defeated the Jackets 4-1.
Even though the Blackhawks improved their home record to 13-2-3 Joel Quenneville probably had reason to criticize. The Hawks appeared to be a little off, their passing wasn’t great and their defense was loose. Fortunately they were facing the worse team in the league and Jackets goalie Steve Mason wasn’t particularly sharp. Columbus also missed 10 shots on the night which helped the Hawks notch another United Center victory.
Corey Crawford made 37 saves but was only strongly tested a handful of times. Crawford did make some nice stops in third period as his teammates lost focus and were outshot 14-5. Even though the Blue Jackets managed a 38-22 shot advantage the outcome was never really in doubt.
The Blackhawks have a great 9-1-1 record in December. They will close out the month facing Los Angeles and Detroit at the UC this week. Things have gone really well but the Blackhawks are in the strongest division in the NHL.
The top three teams in the Central Division are Chicago with 50 points, St. Louis has 46 points and Detroit has recorded 45 points. No other division in the league has its top three teams accumulating as many points as those in the Central.
The bad news is despite a very strong December the Blues and Red Wings are still in striking distance. St. Louis trails the Hawks by only four points with a game in hand. The hated Red Wings have played one less contest than the Hawks as well, and are only five points behind. Detroit will roll into the UC on Friday night and face the Hawks for the first time this season.
The next opponent on tap is the Los Angeles Kings with their new head coach Darryl Sutter. The former Blackhawk player and head coach was hired as the Kings bench boss on December 12.
The Blackhawks probably won’t fare as well on Wednesday if they are outshot in the opening frame 13-5 as they were last night. The Hawks will have to play better versus the Kings and Wings to come away with victories. They will practice on Tuesday morning and should be more prepared and focused to face LA.
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Next article will be out Thursday morning.
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