For a team that the Winnipeg Jets have only faced once prior to this November, the Chicago Blackhawks are starting to become a bitter rival. Tonight’s matchup will be the third time in 20 days the two teams clash, with the Blackhawks taking both previous affairs.
Both teams are looking to get back in the “Win” column after losing their last game; Chicago was handed a 5-1 thumping by the Colorado Avalanche, while Winnipeg rallied late but fell in a shootout to the Calgary Flames on Monday. Chicago is just getting the ball rolling on their annual ‘circus’ road-trip, and this game will be #2 out of 7 for them.
The ‘Hawks come in to tonight’s game with a banged-up lineup, losing power forward Bryan Bickell on Tuesday. Marian Hossa, who has missed Chicago’s last three contests, is back in the lineup tonight. Hossa will bring consistency to the Blackhawks’ game, which has been anything but consistent in those games. Corey Crawford will be back between the pipes for the Blackhawks tonight, after letting in 3 goals on his first 7 shots against the Avalanche. He will face Ondrej Pavelec, who sat out the Jets’ game against Calgary, in favour of back-up Al Montoya. Montoya was also the starter in the Jets’ 4-1 defeat in Chicago on November 6th.
The Jets will need to use their big bodies up-front and on the point tonight, trapping the Blackhawks in their own end, and not letting their opponent use their speed to their advantage. On defense, the Jets will have to force the Blackhawks out wide, as most of their scoring chances come on the rush. Making the forwards double back for a pass to the blue-line will be very effective if the Jets’ forwards cover the point well. On the forecheck, the Jets forwards will need to force the play, and make their defencemen rush the play.
Tonight’s game will be one of possession, and whoever has the edge in that category will most likely come out on top. Both teams have fell victim to piling up turnovers, and the Jets will need to keep the puck to themselves as not to allow Chicago’s explosive forwards to penetrate the zone in an odd-man situation. Winnipeg can force the ‘Hawks to give up the puck with a hard forecheck, as the Blackhawks gave away far too many pucks in their loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks’ special teams have not been as good as usual as of late, but they have the opportunity to pile up 4+ shots on a single man-advantage. Pavelec will have to be on top of his game tonight if the Jets want a chance in this one, as the Blackhawks always put a lot of rubber towards the goal. With great goaltending, and a team that helps out defensively with shot blocks and taking away passing lanes, the Jets can curb a Chicago offense that leads the league in Goals For so far this season.
Don’t wear your helmet to the game tonight: The short-lived #HelmetPardy trend won’t be endorsed by the Jets organization, and they plan to confiscate any such headgear at the game. For the full press release, click here.
The Jets will be in tough against one of the Western Conference’s best teams tonight, but with a full 200-foot, team effort, they can pull off a win tonight.
Let’s Go Jets!
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