JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ CHICAGO

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (23-14-8) at Chicago Blackhawks (28-13-2)  7:30 p.m., United Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The Winnipeg Jets will visit Chicago for the third time this season Friday evening for a match up with the Hawks. Winnipeg surprisingly took both of the first two meetings outscoring the Blackhawks 6-1 in those two games. As if the challenge of sweeping the Blackhawks on their home ice wasn’t big enough, the Jets will try to earn their third straight on the second part of a back to back. The Jets played last night in Dallas while Chicago has been off since a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. It is another important game for Winnipeg in the standings and they could even give themselves the chance to move up into the division playoff spots. Jets and Hawks, Lets Go!

Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the most impressive teams this season, which seems to be a trend. What isn’t a trend is the Hawks having problems with any particular team. It seems however that at least so far this season the Jets are kyptonite to the Superman in Chicago. The Hawks have not been able to score, let alone beat the Jets, despite their only two meetings being in Chicago. The first match up was a battle, which ended in a 1-0 loss, the second however, the Hawks were dominated and never really found their stride. With the amount of talent on this team however it is only a matter of time before the Hawks offence breaks out. With stars like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp, the Hawks often dominate teams with their offensive power and their puck control skill. The Jets may be lucky to have only given up one goal in the two games thus far, but the Hawks will not just lay back and accept another loss.

Jets

It was ugly, it was stressful, it was nothing to brag about, but the Jets got two huge regulation points by beating the Dallas Stars on the road for the second time this season. Winnipeg spent a ton of the game in the penalty box, were doubled up in shots, and absolutely dominated for most of the game. However Winnipeg scored twice and leaned on Ondrej Pavelec, who made 45 saves and was only a minute and a half away from his second shutout of the season, and got the win. This widened the gap to 9 points between the teams and gave the Jets a substantial cushion in the 7th spot. Winnipeg got an early goal from Michael Frolik, and a huge shorthanded goal late in the third from Evander Kane. Kane was huge for Winnipeg, the star who has been placed on the third line played well, scored a goal, and most importantly of all spent a ton of time on the penalty kill. Going 7/7 on the PK was a huge team effort, but the way Kane played he deserves a special mention. The Jets have no time to celebrate however as they got right on the plane and head straight to Chicago. The Jets will need to overcome some fatigue and keep the Hawks stars at bay, but this has the potential to be a great road trip for Winnipeg.

Keys to the Game

Smarten up: The Jets spent half of the game against Dallas in the penalty box and were lucky it didn’t come back to bite them more. The worst part about the penalties was that most of them were lazy or careless, stick infractions and stupid penalties. If the Jets continue to play like that the Hawks will score and score often. Chicago is too good on the power play and there is to much skill, Winnipeg needs to play smarter for a chance to win.

Goalie: Ondrej Pavelec did everything for the Jets last night. the guy who gets more hate than just about anyone was nearly perfect and without him the Jets would have lost by 4 or 5. They now turn to Michael Hutchinson who has been giving them stellar performances all season. Though his numbers have come back down to earth a little bit recently, the kid is still among the best young players in the league. The Jets will need another huge performance from goal keeper if they want to win.

Reel ’em in: The Jets finally widened the gap a little bit on the teams chasing them with a big win over Dallas. Now it is time to try and move up the standings and the first team in their sights will be the Chicago Blackhawks. Only 6 points back the Jets can move within just a couple games, with both their two next meetings being in Winnipeg, the Jets have a chance if they can keep up their level of play.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (12-4-2) GAA: 2.00 SV% .931
Corey Crawford (17-8-2) GAA: 2.15 SV% .924

Injuries

Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season

Versteeg, CHI, (Hand) day-to-day
van Riemsdyk, CHI, (Leg) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-4-1
Blackhawks: 6-4-0

Prediction

Jets tired legs can’t keep up with Hawks
Hawks 5 Jets 2

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Diehard Winnipeg sports fan. Agree or disagree with something I wrote? Find me on twitter @seantheoilcan and let me know Go Jets Go!