Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Hoping to be Chicago Blackhawks Again as they Face Winnipeg Jets


Nov 21, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been…it’s been rough.  Hopefully, after tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks will never take scoring goals for granted…hopefully.  Tonight, the Hawks take on a team that is also struggling, but it is also a team that the Hawks are yet to beat, their Central Divisional foes, the Winnipeg Jets.

In the 5-game season series between the Hawks and Jets, the Jets have won all 3 matchups, all of them being played in Chicago.  Tonight will be the first played in Winnipeg, so the Hawks got that going for them…I guess.  Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

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

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It’s nice to look at the Hawks’ stats.  This is especially true right now, as it serves as a reminder of what kind of team the Hawks really are, even if they are in the midst of an ugly slump.

Offensively, the Hawks are still a very good team, but if you take out the last two games(the shutouts), they are a great offensive team.  The Hawks offense will be tasked with solving a Jets defense that has been slightly above average this season.

Defensively, the Hawks are still elite overall and will be facing a below average Jets offensive attack.

On the Power Play, the Hawks are a bit above average overall and will be up against a Jets Penalty Kill that has been average this season.

For the Hawks, Penalty Killing has been their biggest strength overall, as they have they have the best in the league.  Their PK unit will be up against a not-so-great Jets Power Play.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good this season and they will be taking draws against a Jets squad that has been pretty bad this season.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks remain an elite team, as do the Jets, which is curious since they struggle starting off with the puck, as evidenced by their faceoff percentage.

Overall, the Hawks have a nice advantage, but that hasn’t gotten them anywhere with Winnipeg.  Both teams are struggling and for the first time, these teams will meet in Winnipeg.  Weirdly, this writer feels really good about all of this, for the Hawks.

The Jets are rocking a 26-18-9 record, which is good for 61 points, 4th place in the highly competitive Central Division and as of right now, the 1st Wild Card berth in the Western Conference.

The aforementioned struggles of the Jets are as much on the ice as they are off the ice.  Star forward, Evander Kane was a healthy scratch recently for dress-code violations.  It doesn’t stop there, either.  Kane’s teammate, Dustin Byfuglien reportedly threw Kane’s sweatsuit(the dress-code violation) into the shower, which caused an incident between Kane and other members of the Jets.  Now, Kane is out 4-6 months due to shoulder surgery.  And here you thought the Hawks had problems.

Aside from the Evander Kane saga, the Jets are on a 5-game losing streak.  Regardless, Andrew Ladd has been on fire, with 5 points in the last 3 games.  After having his best season, last season, Bryan Little is having another fine season and has 4 points in the last 2 games.  After being injured on Dan Carcillo’s slash, in the last meeting between the Hawks and Jets, Mathieu Perrault has struggled ever since, with only 2 points in his last 6 games.

In net for the Jets will be rookie Michael Hutchinson.  Huthcinson has struggled mightily as of late but is still having a fine season overall with a .924 Save Percentage in 24 games played.  Hutchinson is also 3-0 against the Hawks, this season and .971 Save Percentage.

The Hawks currently hold a 31-18-2 record, which is good for 64 points and 3rd place in the Central Division.  The Hawks are 8 points behind the 1st place tie between the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues.

Dan Carcillo will be making his return to the Hawks’ lineup tonight, so it’s all but guaranteed the Jets will have at least one Power Play opportunity tonight.  After skipping practice yesterday, Duncan Keith will in fact be playing tonight.  With the Hawks being shutout in two consecutive games, that means Patrick Kane has gone two games without a point.  It’s hard to picture that growing to three games without a point.  The Hawks’ top line of Jonathan Toews centering Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad has been playing poorly, and not just in terms of offensive production.  That has to change and very likely will change very soon.

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Hawks.  Crawford played extremely well, stopping 40 of 43 shots faced in the Hawks’ most recent loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Two teams struggling, but one team’s struggles are multi-dimensional.  If the Hawks can’t take advantage of a Jets team that seems to be spiraling out of control, then we have problems.  If the Hawks can beat a team that has beaten them 3 times this season, then everything is golden right before they head to St. Louis to take on the Blues, on Sunday.

Go Hawks!