Game 77 Scouting Report: Blue Jackets, Blackhawks Clash in Chicago in Matchup of NHL Heavyweights

By Jeff Svoboda on March 31, 2017 at 9:00 am
Columbus crashes into Chicago tonight
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets (49-19-8) at Chicago Blackhawks (49-21-7)

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017, 8:30 p.m. (UNITED CENTER)

When it comes to delivering a message come playoff time, the Blackhawks made their statement loud and clear on Wednesday night.

Chicago tripped to Pittsburgh for a national TV game on Wednesday night and crushed the defending Stanley Cup champions, taking a 4-0 lead in the first period on the way to a comprehensive 5-1 victory.

"We did a lot of good things," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Great start, nice plays on the goals. A couple of shifts they had some good momentum, but I think we stabilized it and played a safe and smart game with the lead."

That ended a bit of a skid for Chicago, which had lost three of four games including a 7-0 shellacking on Saturday night vs. Florida.

Of course, this particular Blackhawks team knows how to prepare and be ready for the playoffs once they arrive. Chicago will be trying to win its fourth Stanley Cup championship this decade, with previous victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

"It's good to know that we can play like that, so let's keep building," winger Patrick Kane said. "Let's try to get this momentum going into the playoffs where we're firing on all cylinders. If you look at our game, we probably played well (Wednesday night), but the power play wasn't very good (0-for-4). Let's improve on that, let's improve on the special teams. Let's be better all over the ice and see how good we can be."

You Oughta Know: Patrick Kane

It's fair to say Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, has lived up to his billing on the ice. The NHL's reigning MVP, Kane again leads the Blackhawks with 34 goals, 50 assists and 84 points. Kane is now just the fourth Blackhawks player in history to register four or more 50-assist seasons with the team. He has been particularly hot during the month of March, totaling a 10-9-19 line during 15 games in the month. Kane's 84 points are second in the entire NHL behind only Edmonton's Connor McDavid (89). 

[Fire Emoji] Right Now
  • Winger Artemi Panarin has been hot as well in March, totaling seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 15 games.
  • Defenseman Duncan Keith has played more than 25 minutes per game in March and leads the team with a plus-10 rating.
  • Marian Hossa has goals in three of the last five games.
Five Fast Facts
  • The Blackhawks have been very good at the United Center with a 25-9-5 record this year, while Columbus is 14-21-4 all-time.
  • Chicago is the only team in the NHL with six players with at least 20 goals, and Ryan Hartman is just two back with 18. The Blackhawks haven't had seven 20-goal scorers since 1990.
  • Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville won his 850th career game vs. Pittsburgh.
  • Injuries: Center Artem Anisimov is out with a lower-body injury.
  • Former Jackets: Anisimov spent three years with the Jackets, playing in 168 games from 2012-13 to 2014-15 before being part of the trade that netted Brandon Saad. He scored 40 goals and had 44 assists in his time with the team.
Previous Matchups

THIS YEAR: Oct. 21: CBJ 3, CHI 2

ALL TIME SERIES: Columbus trails 32-38-10

Keys to the Game

Bob: Sergei Bobrovsky was rested in Carolina to be ready for this one, and it's fair to say he'll be tested by a Blackhawks team that can score goals on anyone. Bobrovsky has to be on his game.

Smart Defending: Chicago has been one of the best offensive teams in the NHL for years, meshing grit and some flashy skill as well. The Blackhawks are also among the best teams in the league at using the boards for passes. 

Confidence: Columbus has scored five goals in each of its previous trips to the United Center. For an offense that has been struggling, perhaps those good vibes will return. 

Blackhawks Projected Lineup

# Player Stats # Player Stats # Player Stats
81 Marian Hossa 69 GP, 25-18-43 16 Marcus Kruger 65 GP, 4-11-15 38 Ryan Hartman 71 GP, 18-12-30
88 Patrick Kane 77 GP, 34-50-84 67 Tanner Kero 42 GP, 6-9-15 72 Artemi Panarin 77 GP, 26-43-69
14 Richard Panik 77 GP, 22-20-42 19 Jonathan Toews 68 GP, 20-36-56 8 Nick Schmaltz 56 GP, 6-21-27
13 Tomas Jurco 27 GP, 1-0-1 70 Dennis Rasmussen 64 GP, 4-4-8 40 John Hayden 8 GP, 1-2-3
Defensive Pairs
# Player Stats # Player Stats
4 Niklas Hjalmarsson 71 GP, 5-13-18, +13 2 Duncan Keith 77 GP, 6-45-51, +20
27 Johnny Oduya 47 GP, 2-7-9, -3 7 Brent Seabrook 75 GP, 3-33-36, +3
51 Brian Campbell 75 GP, 5-12-17, +16 57 Trevor van Riemsdyk 53 GP, 5-11-16, +18
# Player GP W-L-OL GAA SV% SO
50 Corey Crawford 51 31-16-3 2.53 .919 2
33 Scott Darling 31 18-5-4 2.32 .924 2

10 Stats to Know

Impress your friends and enemies alike with these 10 key Chicago Blackhawks stats.

Last 10 Standings PP% PK% CF60 (5x5) CA60 (5x5 PDO OT (SHO) FO% 5x5 GF-GA
7-1-2 1st, Central Division 18.3 (17) 77.7 (25) 56.34 55.29 101.61 (4) 13-7 (4-1) 47.9 (27) 160-132
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