Chicago Blackhawks Vs. NHL Central Division: Winnipeg Jets
By Shane Crosby
The Chicago Blackhawks‘ and the NHL’s toughest division continues to build more elite teams while Chicago struggles to regain their footing. Headed into the 2018-19 season, the Blackhawks could be in trouble.
The NHL Central Division
The regular season has finally arrived and with it, a shocked Chicago Blackhawks fanbase. Who would have thought that the Blackhawks would be sitting number two among an elite Central Division. Given it is still early, not me.
However, here we are. Right now the Chicago Blackhawks have three wins and two overtime losses. The ‘Hawks have earned a point in each of their five games so far with a tally of eight of ten possible.
Winnipeg Jets (Blackhawks 3-2 against last season)
Down in the fourth position, the Winnipeg Jets find themselves with three wins, two losses and a two points gap between them and the second place Chicago Blackhawks. Do not snooze on these Winnipeg Jets. While it is still early in the season, the Jets look to land farther than the conference finals.
They are cup hungry.
Finding a hole in this Jets squad is like trying to catch smoke or fold a fitted sheet. Their production last season speaks for itself. We begin with the offense.
The Winnipeg Jets have the fifth-ranked first line in the NHL. This line includes Kyle Connor (57 points), Mark Scheifele (60 points) and Blake Wheeler (91 points).
Da Windy City
Right behind the first, Nikolaj Ehlers (60 points), Jack Roslovic (14 points) and the bearded beauty himself, Patrik Laine (70 points) hop on the ice. This second line ranks third in the NHL.
While the offensive production is not as shiny and impressive as some of the other producers in the NHL Central Division, they are a large contribution to the Jets’ success. In front of a defense that has depth similar to the Nashville Predators, consider these top two lines your worst nightmare.
Dustin Byfuglien is a familiar name to Blackhawks fans, but the name is now recognized well throughout the NHL.
Byfuglien won the Stanley Cup in 2010 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks before being moved to Atlanta (now Winnipeg) the following offseason. Since moving up to Winnipeg, Byfuglien has played some of his best hockey. Big Buff has posted 45+ points each season since 2013-2014.
With support from players like Tyler Myers (36 points), Josh Morrissey (26 points) and Jacob Trouba (24 points), the Winnipeg defense seems as if it’s similar to the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn (for you Game of Thrones fans). Impregnable.
However, if Bron were to succeed with his, “10 good men and some climbing spikes,” what the party would have to answer to may be a bit more menacing than expected.
What a season Hellebuyck had in 2017-2018. Above all, he was the main reason for the Jets’ success. Tying for first in wins with 44, third in shutouts with six and eighth in goals against average with 2.36, Connor Hellebuyck kept his crease nice and clean.
Just 25 years old, Hellebuyck has quite a future ahead of him. Most likely starting 60+ games this season, he will look to keep that GAA above .900 as he did the previous three seasons with Winnipeg.
Coaching and Conclusion
Paul Maurice won 35 games in his second season with Winnipeg. The following season he won 40. Then 52 after that with a trip to the Western Conference Final. This is the right direction and with the right tools, the Winnipeg Jets can be a top contender for the Stanley Cup in 2018-2019.
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The Blackhawks will not meet the Jets until November 29th. It will be interesting to see how the matchup plays out as it’s the estimated worst team in the Central Division facing off against the favorite.
We have a ways to go until we find out. So, sit back, relax and enjoy. Let’s go, Hawks!