Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 09, 2012
Mired in their longest losing streak in nearly three years, the Chicago Blackhawks now must get used to being without one of their top players. Their cause might be helped by facing a last-place team adjusting to a new coach. Missing Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks try to avoid a fifth straight loss as they face a team they've dominated this season when the Todd Richards-led Columbus Blue Jackets visit the United Center on Tuesday night. Chicago (24-13-5) was 10-2-1 in December, capped by a 3-2 home win over rival Detroit, and had the league's best record. Since that game, the Blackhawks have gone 0-3-1 to drop into a three-way tie for the Central Division lead with the Red Wings and St. Louis. They blew an early two-goal lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to visiting Detroit on Sunday. "It's been a tough stretch for us the last couple games," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We played better tonight. We were more deserving of two points. We just didn't find a way to close it out." Chicago also lost Sharp, who scored one of the two goals in the first 4:19, to an upper-body injury in the first period. The team reported Monday that Sharp will miss the next three to four weeks. The Blackhawks will undoubtedly miss their winger, who has 20 goals - including a team-high five game-winners - and 20 assists. Even without Sharp on Tuesday, they might have a good chance to end a four-game losing streak - their worst since dropping five straight March 13-20, 2009. The Blue Jackets (11-25-5) head into Chicago with the fewest points in the league and 2-8-1 in their last 11. In their latest game Sunday, they lost 7-4 to another struggling club, Anaheim, and that helped lead to Scott Arniel's firing Monday. Richards, who was serving as a Columbus assistant after coaching Minnesota the previous two seasons, will take over as interim coach for the rest of the season. He was 77-71-16 with the Wild and went 2-6-0 against the Blackhawks. "We were playing pretty good (after a 2-12-1 start) until the middle of December and we were going in the right direction, but it's gone off the rails since then," general manager Scott Howson said. "On the weekend, I decided we needed to make a change. "(Richards) will bring a fresh approach and a new voice, and we will try and just move it in the right direction." The Blue Jackets might have a difficult time doing that as they've lost four in a row to the Blackhawks and been outscored 15-6 during their three defeats this season. They also probably won't have one of their top scorers, center Jeff Carter, after he separated a shoulder Sunday. Chicago's Viktor Stalberg has scored twice in both meetings at the United Center this season, including a 4-1 win Dec. 26, but he has zero points over six games since then. The Blackhawks have been shut out twice at the United Center in that span after not being blanked once through their first 18 home games. They've dropped three in a row at home, their longest such skid since dropping four straight Oct. 29-Nov. 10, 2010. "We're going to stick with it," Toews said. We just got to keep working through it. It's just one of things where it happens once a year where we go through a dry spell. ... It's not going to get easier for us." Chicago has never won five in a row over Columbus.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Alabama’s opening week starting QB is transferring

Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

Marlins players surrounded Jose Fernandez’s hearse during its procession

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant has hairline fracture in knee

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

J.J. Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Ryan Kesler disappointed with lack of excitement at World Cup

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker