With a combined score of 9-2, the Blackhawks have quite literally wiped the floor with the Winnipeg Jets to date this season. Those games could have been much worse as well as Chicago let up after building early leads. The talent disparity is showing in the standings as well with the Jets buried in 18th in the league and 6th in the Central while Chicago is 2nd in the league and 1st in the Central.
The Jets continue to struggle with injuries in the defensive corps, but the immediate future is looking better with both Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba getting healthier. Jets have been up and down of late after a 4 game winning streak (albeit with 3 shooutouts wins in there) was snapped last sunday by Minnesota, followed by a shootout loss to Calgary on Monday. This is the 2nd game of a 3 game home stand for the Jets before they head out on a 6 game road trip to the East Coast.
Chicago, who has been their normal dominant selves for most of the season, are in a mini-slump right now. They have lost 2 of their last 3, with the losses being of the blowout variety; 7-2 to Nashville and 5-1 to Colorado. They are entering the 2nd game of their season long (tied) 7 game road trip. The usual suspects are leading the team in Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith but they are getting some huge contributions from youngsters Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri, and Andrew Shaw. The have a very deep team with few weaknesses, particularly after the recent acquisiton of Jet Killer Kris Versteeg.
Jets Keys to the Game
1. Goaltending. Ondrej Pavelec will need to stand on his head if the Jets have any hope of competing in the this game. Chicago is a team basically impossible to control the whole game so Jets will depend on Pavelec to bail them out.
2. Limit time and space. Jets need to get more aggressive on Chicago playmakers across the board, most notably on the PK. Give players like P. Kane or Toews any time and they will burn you. They are just too good. The way to eliminate them is to be on them fast and often. Doesn't mean Jets need to kill them or hit them every single chance, pressure is enough to create turnovers and not allow the playmakers to work their magic.
3. Shots on net. Jets have just 52 shots in two games on Chicago netminders. They need to pour everything on net and create second chances. Chicago is too well coached and deep to expect to take advantage of mistakes. Jets will need to score some dirty goals tonight.
Blackhawks Keys to the Game
1. Keep on keeping on. They have had no trouble containing the Jets to date. Just need to stick to their gameplan and execute properly and they will be able to handle the Jets with ease.
2. Quick transition. Chicago has a very good stable of passing D along with quick creative forwards. All year the Jets have struggled mightily with the quick transition. It's a match made in heaven for the Hawks. Take advantage.
3. Play east-west. Jets play a very old school north south game. Chicago meanwhile likes puck control and making plays. Chicago needs to use that to create open lanes. Winnipeg often runs into defensive issues with forwards who have trouble adjusting (cough E.Kane Peluso cough) in the defensive zone, so Chicago will be able to open lanes with some east west play in all zones.
Player to not boo mercilessly
Jonathan Toews. Come right on people, we have a community centre named after him (my alma mater btw).
Useful reminder - If you wear a helmet tonight, you will not be allowed into MTS Centre with it on. No Pardy Helmet parties