Nov 6, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) is defended by Winnipeg Jets left wing Eric Tangradi (27) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks enter game #2 of their annual “circus trip” hoping to get back on the right track, against the Winnipeg Jets. In these 2 Central Division foes’ previous 2 matchups, this season, the Blackhawks have won both, outscoring the Jets by a combined score of 9-2.
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In most of the offensive categories, the Blackhawks are at the top, or near the top of the league, while in several defensive categories, they are near the bottom of the league. The Jets are either near the bottom, or around the middle, in just about every statistical category. The Hawks, seem to have an edge, especially due to their dominance in puck possession. The Hawks however need to work on defensive zone breakdowns, otherwise the Jets will have an opportunity to steal a victory from the heavily favored Blackhawks.
The Jets won 4 straight games, before following that winning streak with 2 consecutive losses. Tonight, they have their work cut out for them, as the Blackhawks, who have dominated in their previous 2 games, against the Jets, will be in town, tonight. The Jets are hoping to climb towards the top of the Central Division, and beating the Blackhawks, tonight, would go a long ways in achieving that goal. Bryan Little has been propelling the Jets’ offense, with help from former Hawks, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien.
Like the Hawks, the Jets have struggled defensively, but at least the goaltending seems to be rounding into shape a bit. Ondrej Pavelec has received the bulk of the starts, in net, and has started to turn his poor start around. Chicago native, Al Montoya has played well, in his 6 starts, in net for the Jets, this season.
The Blackhawks have been trending wildly up and down lately. Either it’s a blowout win, or a blowout loss. It’s been tough to know what to expect, from the defending Stanley Cup Champions, as of late. Part of the unpredictability has to be attributed to their powerful offense, and poor defense. The Hawks’ offense has been like no other this season, with Patrick Kane on pace for another career year, and Duncan Keith is seemingly hungry for another Norris Trophy, as he has been on fire, offensively, this season. Brandon Pirri has all but solidified himself as the team’s answer to their extended search for a 2nd line center, but his defensive game is still developing. The Hawks got great news today, when they discovered that Marian Hossa will be able to play tonight, after missng the last 2 games, with an injury. With Nikolai Khabibulin struggling, and now injured, the Hawks have been leaning extra hard on Corey Crawford to stop pucks from getting into their net. Recent call up Antti Raanta made his NHL debut, Tuesday night, in Colorado, and looks be an intriguing option, in net for Hawks’ coach Joel Quenneville.
While the Hawks have dominated the Jets this season, they have been very in consistent, as of late, while the Jets have showed flashes of making a move up the ladder, in the Central Division. Tonight should be a interesting game, as a win for either team could send each of these teams in a very positive direction, as each team is looking for some solid footing. It should be a good game.