Many preseason picks had the Jets left for dead after a tumultuous offseason that depleted what had been an impressive blue line. Old friend Dustin Byfuglien appears to be done with hockey and remains away on a leave of absence, although he has recently taken consultation from the Jets while rehabbing a broken ankle. Jacob Trouba was traded, while Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot both walked in free agency. Josh Morrissey and Dmitry Kulikov were the only returners and Neal Pionk was added in the Trouba trade. Despite all of that, though, the Jets remain firmly in contention in the Central Division with 42 points in 34 games, tying them with the Dallas Stars for third place.
The forwards are still strong, though. Patrik Laine got his offseason wish and is skating on the top line with Mark Scheifele. Those two, along with Kyle Connor, present Winnipeg’s biggest offensive threat, as Scheifele leads the Jets with 16 goals and 36 points, with Laine (11-21-32) and Connor (14-17-31) not far behind. The second line also packs a punch with Blake Wheeler (9-19-28) and Nikolaj Ehlers (14-12-26).
In net, Connor Hellebuyck has been stellar with a .926 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average. According to Hockey Reference, his goals-saved above average is 13.26, which is an absurd figure to have not even halfway through the schedule. Expect to see him in net with the Jets having Wednesday off. In its last 15 games, Winnipeg is 10-4-1.
Meanwhile for the Blackhawks, the struggles continue following Wednesday’s loss at home to Colorado. Chicago faced the Jets back on Oct. 12, losing 3-2 in overtime. Robin Lehner figures to be the man in net after Corey Crawford drew the short straw and had to face the Avalanche. Other lineup changes are anticipated, including the possibility of Brent Seabrook returning to ice level after spending Wednesday night in the press box. Those details won’t be known until coach Jeremy Colliton meets with the media later in the day.
One thing that has worked well for the Blackhawks this season: they’ve been excellent on the tail end of a back-to-back, going 5-1 in that second game in as many nights. Most recently, the Hawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 on Sunday after losing to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Let’s go Hawks!
Blackhawks — Statistic — Jets
47.5% (27th) — Corsi For — 48.9% (22nd)
49.4% (20th) — Faceoffs — 51.5% (7th)
2.69 (21st) — Goals per game — 3.00 (16th)
3.14 (t-19th) — Goals against per game — 2.82 (11th)
16.1% (24th) — Power play — 18.2% (17th)
80.0% (18th) — Penalty kill — 73.4% (30th)
Blackhawks (subject to change)
Kubalik — Toews — Saad
Nylander — Strome — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Carpenter
Smith — Kampf — Highmore
Keith — Boqvist
Gustafsson — Murphy
Maata — Gilbert
Connor — Scheifele — Laine
Ehlers — Wheeler — Roslovic
Copp — Lowry — Bourque
Luoto — Shore — Shaw
Morrissey — Poolman
Sbisa — Pionk
Bitetto — Beaulieu
How to watch
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Live stream: NBC Sports app