For the 2nd time in 5 days, the Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Winnipeg Jets. The last time these two, first-year Central Division Rivals faced-off, the Blackhawks embarrassed the Jets, on their home ice. The Jets would love nothing more than to be able to return the favor, tonight.
The Jets were able to shrug off the disappointing performance, against the Hawks on Saturday, with a come from behind 4-2 victory, over the Detroit Red Wings. That win combined with a huge road win, tonight, against the Hawks, would do wonders for a Jets team that has struggled to get into a winning groove, so far this season. Jets’ captain and former Hawks Stanley Cup Champion, Andrew Ladd, is having a nice season, thus far, along with Bryan Little, as they lead the Jets in points, this season. Evander Kane is always a threat, and another former Hawks’ Cup Champion, Michael Frolik, has put up points, in consecutive games.
In net, has been a bit of an adventure for the Jets, this season. Historically hot and cold, off and on goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, has received the bulk of the starts, this season, too little success. In the previous game, against the Hawks, on Saturday, Pavelec was pulled from the game, in favor of Chicago native, Al Montoya, who got the win over Detroit, in a 26 save performance, against 28 shots on goal. It will be interesting to see who gets the start at goaltender, tonight, for Winnipeg.
The Blackhawks followed their blowout win, over the Jets, with a disappointing over time loss, to the Calgary Flames. Even though, they got a point in the standings, for an overtime loss, a team like the defending Stanley Cup Champion Hawks are always expected to get a team that is struggling as much as Calgary is, especially at home. The Hawks are looking to get back on track, against a hungry Jets team, that will likely be extra-motivated to take down the mighty Hawks, on the United Center ice, especially after what happened in Winnipeg, on Saturday. Patrick Kane continues to light the lamp, consistently, despite having a -9 plus/minus rating, while Marian Hossa is starting to hit his offensive stride, to go along with his stellar two-way style of hockey.
The Hawks will likely start Corey Crawford, in net, tonight, as he has been heavily leaned on, so far this season, with the struggles of backup Nikolai Khabibulin. Crawford has played great, all season, but there is concern over wearing him out, if he is leaned on too heavily, this season.
The Hawks are looking to earn a quality home win to help erase the memories of losing to the struggling Flames, while the Jets are looking to build off of a quality win, against the Red Wings, with huge road victory over the Blackhawks team that beat them 5-1, on Saturday. A win for the Hawks would prevent premature worry, from their fan-base that has understandably high expectations, and a win for the Jets would put a mighty wind in their sails, that could take them a long ways. It should be a good game!