Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Face Winnipeg Jets Before Holiday Break


Jan 26, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) is pursued by Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little (18) during the third period at the United Center. Winnipeg won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL will be on a much deserved break in the action for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Before that, though, the Hawks will take on the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center.

This is the 2nd game of the 5-game season series between the 2 Central Divisional foes.  The Jets won the first matchup, on November 2nd, when the shutout the Hawks 1-0, in Chicago.  You can catch tonight’s game on CSN+ and you can listen to the game on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Jets.

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Offensively, the Hawks have an edge over the Jets, but according to the numbers, this projects to be a low-scoring affair.  Defensively, the Hawks have a big edge as they will be facing the Jets’ poor offensive attack.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have been slightly below-average and will have a hard time tonight against the Jets’ very stingy Penalty Killing unit.  For the Hawks, on the Penalty Kill, they have been historically good thus far, and will face a not-so-great Winnipeg Power Play.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks are just short of being considered elite and will be taking draws against a Jets team that is just short of being considered dangerously close to the bottom of the league.  However, even though the Jets have had a hard time winning faceoffs, they are 2nd best in the NHL in CF%, which means they are driving the puck and are 2nd best in the league in positive puck possession.  The only team that they trail in CF%, however, is the Hawks.

This is an interesting matchup, for sure.  An edge goes to the Hawks, but it would have to be slight one.  Goal prevention may be the story of tonight’s game.  Expect a low-scoring one.

The Jets are currently in 4th place in the Central Division with a record of 17-10-7, which is good for 41 points on the season.  They are currently just off the pace of the “big three” of the Central, but are having a fine season so far.  Winnipeg is 5-1-4, which says that they are a tough team to beat and are hanging in games throughout their entirety.  Mathieu Perreault is riding a 7-game point streak, after a slow start to the season.  Former-Hawk, Andrew Laddalong with Blake Wheeler share the team-lead in points with 23 apiece.  Another former-Hawks, Dustin Byfuglein has 7 points in his last 8 games since returning to the blueline.  Since we are talking about a lot of former-Hawks, its worth mentioning that Michael Frolik has 5 points in his last 5 games.

It appears that it will be Michael Hutchinson starting in net for the Jets.  Hutchinson has been great, with a .940 Save Percentage in 12 games this season.

The Hawks are currently leading the Central Division with a 23-9-2 record, which is good for 48 points on the season.  However, they hold only a 2 point lead over the Nashville Predators, who have 2 games in hand, and only a 3 point lead over the St. Louis Blues, who have 1 game in hand.  With 26 points in his last 18 games, Patrick Kane is on absolute fire, but he will be without Brad Richards for a 2nd consecutive game.  With Richards out, Patrick Sharp has picked up the pace with 5 points in his last 4 games, including 3 assists in Sunday’s emotional victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.  With 6 points in his last 3 games, Jonathan Toews has quietly built a bit of a hot-streak of his own.

In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford will be making his 2nd start since returning from injury.  This season, Crawford has been great, with a .927 Save Percentage in 19 games played.

With the Jets playing some very good hockey, the Hawks can’t afford to look past them.  Every game against the Hawks for every other team in the league, especially those in the Central Division, look at games against the Hawks as character testing measuring sticks, and will always bring their A-game.  It’s not Holiday break yet, so hopefully the Hawks go into it on a good note.

Go Hawks!