It’ll be hard not to focus on No. 88 when the Winnipeg Jets roll into Chicago on Friday night to face the Blackhawks for the second time in five days.
Hawks all-star Patrick Kane is leading the league in scoring and is riding a 24-game point streak.
But if you ask Paul Maurice, Kane is just one weapon the Jets must focus on in order to walk out of the United Center with a W.
“They’ve got a couple of other guys that aren’t so bad either,” Maurice told the Jets official website. “You can’t focus on one player against Chicago. They have too many pieces.”
Let’s break down the lineups for tonight’s match.
Provided by DailyFaceoff.com.
Blake Wheeler has been a big reason why the Jets have won three of the last four games. The winger finds himself 10th in league scoring with 10 goals and 18 assists in 29 games played. Wheeler has seven points in the last eight games.
Dustin Byfuglien continues to dominate on the blue-line. Big Buff has nine points in the last eight games and was only held off the scoresheet once in that time span — a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks last weekend. Byfuglien’s eight goals and 12 assists tops all Jets defencemen.
Maurice has yet to announce his starting goalie for tonight’s game but rookie Connor Hellebuyck is coming off a 25-save performance in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Michael Hutchison has struggled to find his game since starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec went down with a knee injury last month. Since being called up from the Manitoba Moose, Hellebuyck has posted a 4-0 record with a .939 save percentage.
Kane has torched the Jets in 15 career games between the Central Division rivals, scoring eight goals and nine assists with a plus-4 rating.
To put it into perspective how impressive Kane’s scoring streak really is, the last time the right winger was held without a point was Oct.15 during a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Brent Seabrook leads all Blackhawks defencemen in scoring with five goals and 15 assists in 29 games this season. The Hawks may get a boost on the blue-line with the possible return of Trevor Daley, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury.
Corey Crawford is expected to get the call between the pipes for Chicago. Crawford 13-7-2 with a .918 save percentage this season.
Game Day Prediction: The Jets are 3-8-0 against Central Division opponents. That’s just not going to cut it if they want to make another run at a playoff spot. This one means a lot for the Jets at this point of the season. Jets 3 Blackhawks 2
Obvious Prediction: Hate to keep beating the Kane drum here, but it’s pretty obvious he’s going to stretch his point streak to 25 games right?
Not So Obvious Prediction: Keep your head up Bryan Bickell…The Big Buff Express is coming for you. #Revenge