Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets
Columbus, OH - Already missing two key defensemen, the Chicago Blackhawks could be without one of their top scoring threats as they try to bounce back from yet another close defeat.
An illness has Patrick Kane's status in doubt as the Blackhawks attempt to spoil the Columbus Blue Jackets' return home from Sweden on Friday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Blackhawks –115 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Blue Jackets. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 638 bets for this game have been placed on the Blackhawks -115.
Kane scored in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Nashville - the team's third one-goal defeat in four games - but missed practice Thursday. The right wing, who led the Stanley Cup champions with 88 points last season, is considered doubtful for Friday's game.
That's not welcome news for the Blackhawks (1-2-1) as they try to shake off their slow start. Chicago is already without Brian Campbell for the rest of this month because of a sprained knee, and fellow defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson must complete a two-game suspension Friday for a hit on Buffalo's Jason Pominville during Monday's 4-3 victory.
After giving up an NHL-low 25.1 shots on goal per game in 2009-10, Chicago has allowed an average of 32.3 this season.
"You miss both of these guys' minutes and their predictability for us defensively," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Those absences could provide the opportunity for the well-rested Blue Jackets (1-1-0) to build on a victory in their final game in Stockholm.
After falling 3-2 to San Jose in the season opener last Friday, Ethan Moreau's overtime goal Saturday gave Columbus a 3-2 win and coach Scott Arniel his first NHL victory.
Arniel is hoping to carry over that momentum into Nationwide Arena, where his team will play nine of its next 13.
"We have to make sure we set the tone in this building," Arniel said. "We have to make it difficult for people in here."
The Blue Jackets lost 5-3 at home to Chicago in their inaugural NHL game Oct. 7, 2000, but they've won their past three home openers and are 5-2-2 in their previous nine.
Columbus lost four of its six meetings with the Blackhawks last season, but won the final two - including an 8-3 rout at home March 25.
Kristian Huselius, who scored a pair of goals in that game, led the Blue Jackets with two goals and three points in Sweden. He had a team-best four goals and four assists against Chicago in 2009-10.
Huselius is expected to face Marty Turco, who is looking to bounce back from a pair of disappointing performances. After Turco posted a 3.42 goals-against average in his first two games with Chicago - both losses - rookie Corey Crawford has played the last two.
"It's early, but the emphasis is on winning here and that's still my most favorite thing about the Blackhawks," Turco told the team's official website.
Turco is 14-4-2 with a 2.21 GAA in his career against the Blue Jackets. He has lost the last three matchups, although he allowed one goal in each of the last two.
The Blackhawks may look primarily to Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa for offense. Sharp has a nine-game point streak against Columbus and has scored three times in four matchups with Steve Mason, who could start in net for the Blue Jackets.
Hossa, who has a team-high three goals and six points, has 12 goals and eight assists in 16 career games against Columbus.The Blue Jackets haven't won three in a row over the Blackhawks since a four-game run Feb. 27, 2004-Dec. 30, 2005.