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Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Looking For First Win Over Winnipeg Jets of Season

By Brian Kinkade
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Dec 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) is pursued by Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little (18) during the third period at the United Center. Winnipeg won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t last year’s Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks should know that by now.  The Hawks should also be well-rested and ready to go, for tonight’s Central Division showdown at the United Center.

This will be the third game of the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Jets.  This will also be the third game played in Chicago as Winnipeg is looking to improve to 3-0, against the Hawks, this season.  Yes, that is correct, the Jets have beaten the Hawks in Chicago twice this season.  Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago Plus and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

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

[table id=114 /]

Offensively, the Hawks are one of the best teams in the league and they will be facing a Jets defensive game that is also one of the best in the league.  Defensively, the Hawks are elite and will be tasked with preventing the below average offensive attack of the Jets from scoring.

On the Power Play, the Hawks are merely average and will have to find the back of the net against a very solid Winnipeg Penalty Killing unit.  For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill has been the best in the league, and they will be up against a not-so-good Jets Power Play.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good and they will be taking draws against a Jets team that has been very bad.  In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks and Jets are interestingly both elite teams.  When considering each team’s faceoff percentage, it tells us that both teams have found different paths to being elite in puck-possession.  Very interesting.

Overall, the Hawks have the advantage, but it’s not a big one.  It’s not like that advantage has helped them against the Jets, this season.  The Jets just played in Dallas, last night, and didn’t arrive in Chicago until around 2:00 AM.  The Hawks, on the otherhand, haven’t played since Sunday and will be well-rested.  However, the Hawks will need to make sure they get their legs up to game speed before the Jets do, tonight, or else that could mean yet another early deficit that the Hawks will have the overcome.

The Jets are currently in 4th place in the Central Division with a 23-14-8 record, which is good for 54 points on the season.  They are 8 points behind the 1st place Nashville Predators and only 4 points behind the 2nd place tie between the Hawks and St. Louis Blues.  You better believe that the Jets are hungry and have come to win tonight.

Andrew Ladd leads the Jets in points with 36 and has 4 in his last 5 games.  After missing time due to injury, Evander Kane is back and has found his scoring touch, as he has 5 points in his last 5 games.  Mathieu Perreault has been on-fire lately.  Including a 4-goal performance on Tuesday, against the Florida Panthers, Perrault has 9(!) points in his last 5 games.

In net for the Jets will be rookie Michael Hutchinson.  Hutchinson has been a revelation for the Jets, this season, as he has a .931 Save Percentage in 19 games played, including a shutout against the Hawks.

The Hawks hold a 28-13-2 record, which is worth 58 points and as mentioned before, a tie for 2nd place in the Central with the St. Louis Blues.  

Bryan Bickell has 9 goals this season, 4 of which have come within the last 5 games.  Bickell has found success filling in for the injured Kris Versteeg on the superb 2nd line centered by Brad Richards and which features Patrick Kane.  Winnipeg native, Jonathan Toews has put together a quiet hot-streak, with 6 points in his previous 5 games.

In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford was just rediscovering his groove before the mini-break in the schedule, so hopefully that wasn’t disrupted.  This season, Crawford has been very good to the tune of a .924 Save Percentage.

As long as the Hawks can work their on-paper advantage and the fact that they are well-rested into tonight’s game, they should win, no problem.  However, these Jets are for real.

Go Hawks!

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