The Columbus Blue Jackets are getting ready for the upcoming season, even as that season is in jeopardy due to ongoing labor negotiations. Despite the possibility of a lockout, fans have already picked their favorite upcoming match-ups. Assuming the season starts on time, here are five key games that deserve your attention:
- 10/19 vs. Vancouver Canucks: The first home game of the season puts the Blue Jackets against the Canucks. Will Roberto Luongo be with them? That question is still unanswered. But fans will definitely be on hand to “Join the Battle” and loudly support the team.
- 10/23 vs. Detroit Red Wings: This game is being featured not only because of fellow Central Division team, but because it’s the only time the Blue Jackets will be seen on national television barring a playoff appearance. It might be a futile effort in the end, but at least the team gets some nationwide exposure. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
- 11/2 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Football has its interstate rivalry between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Hockey doesn’t have quite that equivalent (Cleveland’s hockey team is in the AHL), so the closest Ohio and Pennsylvania fans can get is this meeting between the Pens and the Jackets. Fans have already started chirping each other on Twitter and other social media. This could be the NHL’s version of a (not really close to) Cleveland – Pittsburgh showdown.
- 12/31 vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Unless the Mayans are right, the Blue Jackets close out 2012 at home with a New Year’s Eve game against the Blackhawks. Last season didn’t fare so well for the Jackets with regards to the Hawks, as they went 0-6 and were particularly vexed by Viktor Stalberg. Fans will be hoping to ring in the new year with a win.
- 4/5 vs. New York Rangers: The season draws to a close on a bittersweet note. Blue Jackets fans will be waiting patiently to see former captain Rick Nash in his new uniform. How will he react to the Columbus crowd? More importantly, how will fans in Nationwide Arena react to him?
Note that all of these games are at home, so Blue Jackets fans can grab tickets to all of them. With the exception of the Detroit game, start time for these games will be 7 p.m.