The Chicago Blackhawks will show off their newest acquisition on Friday night at the United Center when they host the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.
News from the morning skate had Anthony Duclair skating on the third line with David Kampf as his center and rookie phenom Alex DeBrincat on the right wing. Eyes will be drawn to that line all night and the logic here appears to be that Duclair’s speed and skill will open up room for DeBrincat’s knack for making hockey plays to shine.
As for the opposing Winnipeg Jets, it’s been a breakout season for the team north of the border. With 59 points, they lead the Central Division by three over the Nashville Predators, who do have two games in hand on Winnipeg. Many of the familiar names are producing again for Winnipeg, with Blake Wheeler (52 points in 44 games) and Patrik Laine (19 goals in 44 games) among the most notable performers. But the biggest performance has come in net, where Connor Helleybuck has emerged as the Jets’ clear No. 1 goalie, posting a .923 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average that earned him a spot in the All-Star lineup earlier this week. The Jets also boast a deep D corps, highlighted by Tyler Myers, the up-and-coming Jacob Trouba, and old friend Dustin Byfgulien. Winnipeg is dealing with some injuries of late, though, most notably an injury to top-liner Mark Scheifele, who was injured just after Christmas and is expected out until February. That injury hasn’t slowed the Jets, though, who’ve won six of their last seven games.
For Chicago, along with Duclair’s debut, another noted lineup change has Jeff Glass getting a start in net. This looks like a move by coach Joel Quenneville to get Glass some playing time before a long layoff next week. On defense, Michal Kempny and Erik Gustafsson appear to be the scratches with Q opting to go back to the more traditional six defensemen strategy.
The first time these two teams met, Chicago turned in one of its best performances of the season: a 5-1 torching of the Jets that reminded us all of the Stanley Cup potential that lurks within this roster. A repeat performance would be ideal, but merely doing enough to get two points and keep pace in the division would also suffice.
|F1||Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Vinnie Hinostroza|
|F2||Ryan Hartman - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane|
|F3||Anthony Duclair - David Kampf - Alex DeBrincat|
|F4||Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - Patrick Sharp|
|D1||Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle|
|D2||Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta|
|D3||Brent Seabrook - Connor Murphy|
|F1||Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Tyler Bertuzzi|
|F2||Tomas Tatar - Dylan Larkin - Andreas Athanasiou|
|F3||Dominic Turgeon - Frans Nielsen - Luke Witkowski|
|F4||Martin Frk - David Booth - Anthony Mantha|
|D1||Dan Dekeyser - Mike Green|
|D2||Jonathan Ericsson - Trevor Daley|
|D3||Niklas Kronwall - Nick Jensen|
How to watch Jets at Blackhawks
Start time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago