Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Must Take Advantage Of Favorable Schedule

By Colin Likas
Dec 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) and Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) go for the puck during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) and Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) go for the puck during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
5 of 5
chicago blackhawks
chicago blackhawks /

Winnipeg Jets

I know, the Jets have the Blackhawks’ number this season. But that doesn’t change the fact the Jets aren’t very good. Sure, they’re three points out of a playoff spot, but again, weak West. They’re third from last in the conference.

The Blackhawks seem to have a lot of trouble dealing with Winnipeg’s size and lose the puck rather easily as a result. Therefore, they don’t get as many shots on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck as they should. And they need to get more shots on him in this game, because while he’s been stellar against Chicago (.966/1.01 in his career), he’s young and vulnerable when pressured.

More from Analysis

Once the Blackhawks break the seemingly impenetrable wall that’s been Hellebuyck, the rest should flow easily. The Jets have a budding top six with Mark Scheifele (43 points), Nikolaj Ehlers (40), Patrik Laine (37) and Blake Wheeler (37), but most of the rest of the group is “meh.”

With last change, just like with Tampa, the Blackhawks should thrive if their send their top four defensemen out against these guys. That means Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Michal Kempny. Not TVR. Not Michal Rozsival. Not Jenny from the Block.

Overall, the Blackhawks have a great chance for four wins in as many games to go into the All-Star break feeling good. The only key factor all of these teams hold is desperation. They can’t afford to fall any further behind in the standings, as Boston is clinging to a playoff spot and the other three teams are just outside the picture.

Next: Eye On The Enemy: Boston Bruins

The Blackhawks need to use that to their advantage, as desperate teams are more likely to panic and make mistakes. And Chicago needs to start coming out of its winter doldrums now if it is serious about winning the Central Division, because it doesn’t look like the Minnesota Wild are slowing down any time soon.

facebooktwitterreddit