Feb 6, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) battles Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) for the puck during the second period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Hopefully, the Chicago Blackhawks are reading this because I will say that the Winnipeg Jets are a good hockey team. It seems like the Hawks can play well against good teams while they seem to get humiliated by the bad teams. I’ll say it again, the Winnipeg Jets are a good hockey team.
This will be the 5th and final matchup of the season series between the Hawks and Jets. The Jets have won 3 of the first 4 meetings. Tonight’s game will be played in Winnipeg and puck drop is set for 6:30 PM Central Time. You can catch tonight’s game on WGN-Chicago and you can hear it on WGN 720 AM.
Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Jets.
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Offensively, the Hawks have been offensive and not in a good way. They have fallen to being a below average team and tonight their offensive attack will face an above average Winnipeg defensive unit.
Defensively, the Hawks are still in the elite class and tonight they will be tasked with shutting down a middle-of-the-road Jets offense.
On the Power Play, the Hawks can be considered bad overall and tonight they will face a Jets Penalty Kill that has been pretty solid.
For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill still remains an elite one, but they are still without Joakim Nordstrom and will be facing a roughly average Winnipeg Power Play.
In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been great and practically elite. Tonight, they will be taking draws against a Jets team that has really struggled to win in the dot.
In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are a good but not great team. They were great but have seemingly lost their way and tonight they will be fighting for the puck with a Winnipeg team that has been excellent at possessing the puck.
On paper, this is an almost even matchup but if we were to look at recent trends, the advantage has to be Winnipeg’s. The Hawks have had a hard time against the Jets this season and with the way things have gone lately, it would seem that the Jets should easily win this one. However, this is the Hawks we are talking about and they are playing a contending team, so anything can happen.
The Jets are 39-24-12, which is good for 90 points and 5th place in the Central Division. Winnipeg currently holds the 2nd and final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and are 3 points ahead of the nearest competition, the Calgary Flames. The Jets have won 6 of their last 7 games and are looking for and more like a playoff-bound team.
Former Hawk, Andrew Ladd leads the Jets in points with 59 in 75 games. The Jets will likely be without one of their best scorers in Bryan Little and may or may not be without Mathieu Perrault tonight. Blake Wheeler is on a 2-game goal streak.
Starting in net for the Jets will be Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec was the NHL 1st Star of the Week, last week, and sports a very good .919 Save Percentage in 44 games played. In 5 career games against the Hawks, Pavelec has an awful .867 Save Percentage.
The Hawks are 44-24-6, which is good for 94 points and 4th place in the Central Division. The Minnesota Wild(who have played in one more game than the Hawks) now hold 3rd place and lead the Hawks by a point. The 2nd place St. Louis Blues(who have also played in one more game than the Hawks) currently lead the Hawks by 5 points.
So, currently the Hawks hold the 1st Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and 7 points ahead of the Flames before falling out of the playoff picture entirely. There’s(knock on wood) no reason to worry about the Hawks missing the playoffs, but there are certainly plenty of reasons to worry, in general.
Jonathan Toews has been under 50% in faceoff percentage in 3 of his last 5 games. He needs to rediscover his consistent dominance and the Hawks should be far more successful as a team. After initially struggling in the dot upon his trade to the Hawks, Antoine Vermette has been much better in the past few games. Brandon Saad has a 2 game point streak going after going pointless in his previous 4. Patrick Sharp has recorded 3 points in his last 3 games.
Starting in net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford. Crawford has great with a .923 Save Percentage in 52 games played. In 8 career games against the Jets, Crawford holds a very good .922 Save Percentage.
With the Jets being a good team, hopefully, the Hawks wake up and play a good hockey game tonight. If they do, they will have to get used to playing good hockey because they return home tomorrow night to face the Los Angeles Kings. One game at a time though.