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Game #71 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs Winnipeg Jets

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Your Winnipeg Jets take on a Chicago Blackhawks squad whose hold on the Central Division's 3rd seed is beginning to look a little tenuous.

The Chicago Blackhawks have stumbled of late, going 3-6-1 over their last ten games and 2-4-1 in the month of March. They're currently on a three game losing skid, having fallen to Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Increasingly looming in Chicago's rear-view mirror are the Nashville Predators. Those pesky Preds have gone 7-1-2 over their last 10, and now sit just three points back of catching the Blackhawks. The five game season series between Chicago and Nashville is over, with the Blackhawks coming out on top 3-2-0.

As for the Winnipeg Jets, they've meandered to their own record of 3-6-1 over the last ten games. The Jets tanking effort tactical retreat bounced back from a convincing 5-2 win over Vancouver, by following up with a miserable 4-1 loss to Calgary.

In Wednesday's game versus the Flames, Winnipeg conceded three 1st period Goals Against. Thanks to that effort, they now lead the league in 1st period Goals Against, with 67. For the record, Chicago's 59 1st period Goals For ranks fourth.

Chicago holds the season series advantage at the moment, sporting a record of 2-1-0. The last time these two teams met, the Blackhawks emerged with a 2-0 victory on December 11th, having also defeated Winnipeg 3-1 just five days earlier. After tonight's tilt, the two clash one more time on April 1st, again at the MTS Centre.

Catch the game tonight, 7:00 PM Central Time on CSN-CH, TSN3 and TSN1290.

It's a Numbers Game

Chicago Blackhawks

Winnipeg Jets

Record

41-24-6

29-36-5

Division-Conference-League

3rd - 4th - 6th

7th - 13th - 28th

Last 10 - Streak

3-6-1 - L3

3-6-1 - L1

Goals For / Game

2.76 (8th)

2.57 (21st)

Goals Against / Game

2.46 (8th)

2.94 (26th)

Shots For / Game

30.7 (7th)

29.7 (18th)

Shots Against / Game

30.8 (21st)

29.6 (14th)

5v5 Corsi For %

50.7% (14th)

52.0% (9th)

5v5 Shooting %

6.34% (27th)

7.20% (18th)

5v5 Sv%

93.2% (6th)

92.0% (24th)

Power Play %

22.6% (3rd)

15.2% (29th)

Penalty Kill %

78.2% (26th)

78.4% (25th)

PIM / Game

07:12 (3rd)

11:56 (27th)

The 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks are a good team led by great players; it's hard to say they're a great team, however.

Last season, Chicago's 5v5 Shots For of 52.4% ranked eighth. While they weren't the most buttoned-down defence, with a 24th place 5v5 Shots Against per 60 of 29.8, the Blackhawks more than offset this thanks to a league-leading 32.9 5v5 Shots For per 60.

Switching to Corsi gives perhaps an even more flattering portrayal. The Blackhawks' 5v5 Corsi For of 53.6% was second only to the Los Angeles Kings, with their Corsi For per 60 and Corsi Against per 60 ranking third and eleventh, respectively.

Shifting focus to 2015-16, take much of what was just said and make it worse. While Chicago's SA60 saw a marginal improvement of 0.2, the SF60 tumbled by the better part of three shots, going from 32.9 last season to 30.2 this year. As a result, the Blackhawks have gone from eighth to thirteenth in SF%.

CF% drops from second to fourteenth, with CF60 and CA60 down to eleventh and fourteenth, respectively. While Chicago are still a positive fancy stat team, they're far closer to middle of the pack than their record and reputation may suggest.

Led by Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Brent Seabrook, the Blackhawks operate a wicked deadly power play. Their penalty kill has proven significantly less able, though Chicago's general lack of PIMs keep it from being overly exposed.

Hello Darling, nice to see you

Scott Darling

Ondrej Pavelec

Record

6-6-2

8-12-2

Overall SV%

.912%

.901%

ES SV%

.918%

.915%

PP SV%

.862%

.852%

Corey Crawford has been an absolute stud for the Chicago Blackhawks. After very respectable numbers last year, Crawford has raised the bar further this season, with an even strength save percentage of .935% and .926% overall.

Unfortunately for the Jets' #NoPainNoLaine campaign, Crawford is currently day-to-day with an upper-body injury. As such, tonight's starter is Blackhawks backup Scott Darling.

Darling's numbers are middling at best. Of the 60 goalies who have played at least 15 games, his .918 Ev Sv% ranks 42nd. Among the same pool, his overall Sv% of .912% comes in 40th, tied with Arizona's Louis Domingue and three spots behind former Blackhawks backup Antti Raanta.

Though still possessing the goaltending advantage over Winnipeg, Chicago sans Crawford presents a significantly less imposing challenge.

Seabrooking the bank

Brent Seabrook

Dustin Byfuglien

Games Played

71

69

Goals - Assists - Points

13 - 29 - 42

16 - 28 - 44

Power Play Points

21

16

Shooting %

8.7%

7.6%

TOI / Game

22:56

24:51

PP TOI / Game

02:55

03:19

SH TOI / Game

01:45

02:04

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

-4.7%

+4.4%

5v5 Penalty Differential

-8

-20

Brent Seabrook is having a tremendous season. It's also unlikely to last and replete with red flags.

His 13 goals and 42 points in 71 games have been of great assistance to Chicago this season, no doubt. But after a shooting percentage of 4.4% last season, 4.7% the year prior and 5.6% for his career, his 2015-16 Sh% of 8.7% seems a tad anomalous.

Among Blackhawks defencemen, his 5v5 SF% is better only than Michal Rozsival and his CF% ranks dead last. In 2013-14, Seabrook saw 49.09 5v5 Corsi Against per 60. Last season, that number rose to 56.19, and this year it's risen yet again to 60.09. These are not encouraging numbers for a 30-year-old defenceman whose eight year contract extension worth $6.875 mil AAV hasn't even kicked in yet.

#AGoodLadd(?)

Jonathan Toews

Mark Scheifele

Games Played

70

59

Goals - Assists - Points

25 - 24 - 49

23 - 23 - 46

Power Play Points

8

8

Shooting %

15.6%

14.6%

TOI / Game

19:28

18:00

PP TOI / Game

02:26

02:32

SH TOI / Game

01:28

00:18

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

-3.1%

+3.4%

5v5 Penalty Differential

+12

+8

Since joining the Blackhawks, Andrew Ladd's most common 5v5 linemates have been Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw. In that time, both have been significantly better away from Ladd as opposed to with, something which also appears to hold true team-wide:

Which isn't to say Ladd is completely devoid of contribution at the moment. With four points in eight games and averaging 17:00 TOI a night, head coach Joel Quenneville clearly sees use for Winnipeg's ex-captain. Given how the top-line of Ladd-Toews-Hossa has been reunited, Ladd shouldn't be left wanting for opportunity tonight.

Affection or Affliction

Affection. Andrew Ladd played 429 regular season games with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, scoring 305 points. He wore the team's C for six years, and now with Chicago, has the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in his career.

Shower him with praise and adoration.

According to Nostradamus

In a storyline which will seem quite familiar, the Blackhawks rally after falling behind 2-0. Led by 2015-16 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin, Chicago win this one for their prodigal son. Andrew Ladd has an assist.

Jets lose 3-2.

PS: many thanks to @maxthesilent for this absolute gem:

Stats, facts and automobiles provided by NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, WAR On Ice, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference and The Hockey News.