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Jumpin’ on a Jet: Blackhawks vs Jets Preview

The Hawks return home to the UC to take on the Jets.

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NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After a short east coast road trip, the Chicago Blackhawks return to Chicago to host the Winnipeg Jets on Friday evening at the United Center with puck drop set for 7:30 p.m.

The Blackhawks were able to snap a lengthy eight-game losing streak to start their road trip but have since lost their last two games, putting them at 7-14-4 on the season.

The Jets feature a balanced attack and sound defensive scheme under new head coach Rick Bowness. The former Stars coach has led his current team to a 17-7-1 record, which is good enough for first place in the Central Division.

A trio of Jets skaters are over point-per-game, including Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Morrissey, each with 28 points in 25 games as well as Kyle Connor who has 27 points in that span.

Winnipeg’s starting goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, has also been very good, owning a 14-5-1 record with a .932 save percentage in that 20-game span. However, its his back-up, “Big Save” Dave Rittich who is expected to get the start against the Blackhawks on Friday. Rittich has not posted the numbers that Hellebuyck has, going 3-2 in only 5 games played, with a save percentage of .881.

Regardless of who starts in net, the Hawks have their work cut out for them. Winning the possession battle should be the main objective, one that has evaded the Hawks for the majority of their season.

The Hawks enter this division match-up missing a slew of players to injury. Tyler Johnson and Jared Tinordi both remain out, as do net minders Alex Stalock and Petr Mrazek. Jonathan Toews, who missed time with illness, remains a game-time decision. On a positive note, Sam Lafferty, who missed time with a back injury, is expected to play on Friday night. Arvid Soderblom is expected to get the call in net.

The Blackhawks have an uphill battle on Friday evening. If they want to come away with points, they’re going to need all the help they can get to put together a complete 60-minute game.

Tale of the tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Jets

41.38% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 56.5% (2nd)

41.39% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 60.32% (1st)

2.54 (30th) — Goals per game — 3.36 (11th)

3.58 (25th) — Goals against per game — 2.52 (4th)

56.2% (1st) — Faceoffs — 48.1% (24th)

25.3% (11th) — Power play — 23.5% (15th)

74.7% (23rd) — Penalty kill — 83.8% (4th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Athanasiou — Toews (?) — Kane

Kurashev — Domi — Raddysh

Khaira — Dickinson — Entwistle

Blackwekk — Lafferty — R. Johnson

J. Johnson — S. Jones

C. Jones — Murphy

McCabe —Mitchell

Söderblom

Stauber

Jets

Connor — Dubois — Eyssimont

Perfetti — Scheifele — Wheeler

Harkins — Lowry — Maenalanen

Jonsson-Fjallby — Gustafsson — Barron

Morrissey — Demelo

Dillon — Pionk

Schmidt — Stanley

Rittich/Hellebuyck

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBCSCH

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV