clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet: Blackhawks at Jets Preview

I mean, literally, the Blackhawks have shown fans nothing yet.

Chicago Blackhawks v Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets plays the puck behind the net as Olli Maatta of the Chicago Blackhawks defends
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The misery of October doesn’t appear to actually be over.

After starting November on a good foot by beating the Senators 5-1, the Blackhawks coughed up a 3-1 lead against the undefeated Hurricanes to return to their losing ways on Wednesday.

Now, for the first time this season, the Blackhawks will face the Jets in Winnipeg on Friday night — one of the Central Division favorites entering this season. The Jets enter with a 5-2-2 record, three points behind the Blues (7-1-1) for first in the Central.

The Jets enter this game of a 4-3 shootout win over the Stars on Tuesday and have won five of their last six games. This will be a challenge for the 1-8-2 Blackhawks to overcome, and so far this season, Chicago has not proven capable of overcoming many challenges.

The good news for the Blackhawks is that the Jets don’t have the same keys to victory as they’ve had in the past, as their win on Tuesday came without goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who missed the game for personal reasons. Hellebuyck, one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, is off to a slow start this season with a .899 save percentage while his backup, Eric Comrie, has a .915.

The Jets are led by Kyle Connor, who has 14 points in nine games this season, including seven goals. Pierre-Luc Dubois, who the team acquired last season in exchange for Patrik Laine, has seven goals and 11 points of his own. Veteran stalwarts Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have been hurt to start the season, with Scheifele playing just three games and Wheeler four.

Since the last time the Blackhawks faced the Jets, the team has added Paul Stastny to their center lineup, as well as Nate Schmidt, Brenden Dillon, Dylan DeMelo and Logan Stanley on the blue line.

The Jets are not one of the better possession teams in the league, entering this game 22nd in shot share and 19th in expected goal share at 5-on-5, but they’re getting by on shooting luck, as they have the fifth-highest shooting percentage across all strengths to start the season at 11.52.

The team’s power play is converting at a rate of 28.6 percent, which is No. 3 in the NHL. However, their penalty kill has been atrocious, tied for worst in the league with the Coyotes at 62.5 percent. That may be the story of the Jets’ season so far: while their new defense is taking some time to come together, and has so far not been helped by the play of what should be a phenomenal goaltender, their offense is excelling enough to cover up for that slow learning.

If only the Blackhawks’ offense could do the same thing. But that’s what happens when Jeremy Colliton values grit and “hard to play against” — four words I hope are never strung together in terms of the Blackhawks ever again once Colliton is gone — ability instead of putting the most talented, offensively-capable players on ice, isn’t it.

Here’s an update from the morning skate on who’ll be suiting up for Chicago:

Go, I guess, Hawks.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Jets (stats from this season)

45.6% (30th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 50.44% (14th)

42.59% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 48.29% (19th)

2.27 (29th) — Goals per game — 3.44 (7th)

3.82 (31st) — Goals against per game — 3.22 (24th)

49.7% (17th) — Faceoffs — 50% (16th)

23.3% (11th) — Power play — 28.6% (3rd)

89.2% (4th) — Penalty kill — 62.5% (31st)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Dach — Kane

Hagel — Toews — Carpenter

DeBrincat — Kurashev — Hardman

Strome — Entwistle — Gaudette

de Haan — Jones

Gustafsson — Murphy

McCabe — Beaudin

Fleury

Lankinen

Jets

Connor — DuBois — Svechnikov

Copp — Stastny — Ehlers

Lowry — Scheifele — Wheeler

Harkins — Nash — Toninato

Morrissey — Schmidt

Dillon — Pionk

Stanley — DeMelo

Hellebuyck

Comrie

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: Canada Life Centre, Winnipeg

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: ESPN+