The Chicago Blackhawks will be heading north of the border to Winnipeg tonight to play the Jets for the last time this season. This will be the fifth meeting between these two squads, and the Blackhawks have only lost one of those matchups. In terms of standings, the Jets do not really have much to play for as they are 31-39-7 (69 points) and statistically out of the playoffs. This is kind of sad because I did love watching the Jets in the playoffs last year with their home whiteout.
It is not the best time to be a Jets fan right now, as they do not have much going for them. They lack a certain “star player” that they had with Andrew Ladd, both their powerplay and penalty kill are terrible and they cannot manage to keep the puck out of the net. Oh, yeah, and they can’t really score either, as they rank 23rd in the league in goals for, with an average of 2.51 goals per game. It seems like I am just bombarding the Jets here, but these are just the very sad facts. To make matters worse, no Canadian team will make the playoffs, so Jets fans cannot even cheer their country on in about two weeks. Sorry, guys.
The Jets are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, in which they have only lost by one goal in each of the three games. So along with all the facts about them not being good, they clearly cannot even get the puck to bounce the way they want to. If Jets fans need some positive vibes, I can send those right now. Mark Scheifele is a 23-year-old center (or centre) who is a huge beacon of light for this team. He was a former seventh overall pick for the Jets back in 2011, and has only improved since he came into the NHL in 2011-12. This season, he has 26 goals and 27 assists with a plus/minus rating of 15. He is very good in terms of possession with a 55.6 Corsi-for rating this season. In his past 20 games played, he has totaled 24 points. He is absolutely on fire, and is quickly emerging as a fantastic center in the NHL and for the Jets after the loss of Ladd.
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As for the ‘Hawks, things are not looking pretty. Duncan Keith is suspended indefinitely for his stick swing at the Wild’s Charlie Coyle — which I think should only be five, maybe six games — and Corey Crawford is doing God knows what as he is still sidelined with an “upper-body injury.” While it is not the best time to be a Jets fan, being a ‘Hawks fan right now is not all sunshine and rainbows either. In their last game, the Blackhawks lost 4-1 to the Wild. A main reason they lost was because Keith and Brent Seabrook were out, so the ‘Hawks defense was pretty much the equivalent of placing two sticks at the blue line. That loss finished the season series with the Wild, and the ‘Hawks did not win a single game against them. That is not promising heading into the playoffs, where the two teams could meet later on in a seven-game series.
The ‘Hawks have officially clinched a playoff spot, but their specific spot is still uncertain. They have five games remaining this season, and the Nashville Predators have five as well. Three of the Blackhawks’ last five games are against teams not in the playoff hunt, while the Predators have four games against teams in the playoff hunt, including the Dallas Stars once. This is a big factor that could help the ‘Hawks clinch a division spot, and allow them to not go out West in the first round.
As you can see above, Marian Hossa will not be making the trip and Crawford will still be out. So Scott Darling will likely be in net. The game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet on TV and on 720 WGN in the car, as usual. That is all I have for this one, so until next time, go ‘Hawks!