The Chicago Blackhawks fly back home after a dominant showing in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. They opened up the scoring early with a Drake Caggiula marker just 21 seconds into the game. The Blackhawks didn’t stop there, as Jonathan Toews followed up with a goal of his own shortly thereafter.
The visitors went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead, and ultimately more headaches for Frederik Andersen in the crease. Andersen allowed 3 goals on 6 shots in the first period, which set the tone for the rest of the contest. The Maple Leafs don’t have a good enough defence that they can’t afford Andersen struggling between the pipes. Chicago took full advantage of Andersen’s issues and piled on the goals.
There isn’t much time to celebrate for the Blackhawks, as they are back home to welcome the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. It’s another important game for the Blackhawks, who could have a nice second-half and find themselves in the playoffs. They’re up to 52 points in the Central Division, and are threatening the Jets who enter Sunday with 54 points on the season.
It’s a tight wildcard race in the Western Conference, with the Canucks and Golden Knights neck and neck, while the Jets and Blackhawks are within shouting distance. All you need is a seat at the table in the NHL to cause some noise. This isn’t the NBA where a bottom seed has no chance in the playoffs.
With that in mind, the Jets and Blackhawks are still alive and could be the surprise team of the playoffs. If the Blackhawks do reach the playoffs, then Jeremy Colliton can rest a lot easier following the year. He’s been regarded as a guy who could be on the hot seat in the offseason without a strong push in the second-half. It’s unlikely that would come in-season, though Colliton could easily be gone if the Blackhawks don’t possess a strong push towards the postseason.
The Blackhawks enter Sunday on a four-game winning streak, and they’ve moved up to 23-20-6 on the season thanks to the recent hot run. The most impressive of which was the 6-2 win against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday evening. They will hope to avoid a letdown on a back-to-back on Sunday.
The Jets are coming off a monster loss at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 7-1. With injuries piling up on the blueline, the Jets were severely outmatched Friday night. We’ll see if Paul Maurice can put some successful defensive pairings together for Sunday at the United Center. Head below for our free Jets vs. Blackhawks pick.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Chicago Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Jets vs. Blackhawks Prediction:
Paul Maurice is going to have to figure it out with his defence because they’re playing several down. Carl Dahlstrom is the latest Jet to have to sit down and deal with an injury, and in their first game without him against the Lightning, it was an ugly display for three periods. The Lightning scored 7 goals in a 7-1 rout of the Jets on Friday night.
Connor Hellebuyck was way out of his element, as he was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 12 shots. Hellebuyck must play much better with their defensive unit in dire straits at the moment. In their previous ten games, the Jets have allowed 3.5 goals per game. Unless Hellebuyck can be lights out between the pipes, then the issues in that regard are likely going to continue.
On the season, the Jets have been average defensively with 3.04 goals against for 16th in the NHL. Take the injuries into consideration, and the Jets are certainly below average in that regard. Losing Dahlstrom is bigger than it appears to most casual observers, and on top of that, the Jets recently lost Nathan Beaulieu and Tucker Poolman on the blueline as well.
The Jets were hoping to get Poolman back before the All-Star break, but he was just placed on the IR and will get some extended rest. With the defence reeling because of injuries, the Jets called up Cameron Schilling from the Manitoba Moose on Friday. Schilling in his third season with the organization, having suited up in four games last season.
The Blackhawks’ offence was on fire last night, and unfortunately for the Jets, there won’t be a cooling off period as the Hawks will be right back out on the ice. The offence has been playing well recently for the Blackhawks, as they’ve recorded 3.5 goals per game in their last ten games. They have played the Jets plenty over the last couple of years and have been solid. Chicago has scored an average of 3.3 goals in their last six meetings. It may not be the same output that the Blackhawks got in Toronto last night, but they should be able to have another productive day at the office.
It wouldn’t make much sense for the Jets to try and win this one with their defence. They don’t have the ammunition on the blueline to compete like that. Instead, Paul Maurice might want to take some more chances offensively against a pedestrian Chicago defence. And the Jets have found success on the road offensively, having scored 3.29 goals per game going into tonight. We’ve seen an average of 7.3 goals per game in the Jets and Blackhawks previous six meetings. A 4-3 final score looks like a probable result on Sunday night at the United Center.