JGD 18: Top Two Teams In Central Division Face Off At MTS Centre

It’s always a special day when the Chicago Blackhawks roll into the MTS Centre to face the hometown Winnipeg Jets. However, this particular affair has a bit of flavour to it. 

Firstly, it is Hockey Fights Cancer night at the MTS Centre. The Jets will wear special jerseys during the pre-game warmup that will be auctioned off afterwards with proceeds going to CancerCare Manitoba. Secondly, these are the top two teams in the Central Division. It shall be a fun night.

Lineups:

Winnipeg (8-7-2)

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Oh look! More injuries! So much fun! The latest Jet to find his way into the MASH unit is Kyle Connor, who suffered an upper body injury during Sunday’s game versus Los Angeles. No word on when the 2015 first round draft pick will return but the Jets will have to soldier on. 

The latest member of the Manitoba Moose to get called up is Chase De Leo. The 2014 fourth round draft pick has had a decent start for the Moose, recording 7 points (3G, 4A) in 12 games. Despite his smallish stature, De Leo does bring a physical side to go with some skill. De Leo and Nic Petan lit up the WHL while being linemates with the Portland Winterhawks so perhaps Paul Maurice puts them together at some point.

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It hasn’t taken long for Jacob Trouba to make an impact since returning to the fold. Check out his relative corsi for percentage if you don’t believe me. 

Granted, it’s a small sample size but there’s no denying that Trouba has contributed positively to the Jets cause. 

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Connor Helleybuyck is the likely starter. Neither goalie has claimed the number one spot as of yet, but Hellebuyck is closer to grabbing the brass ring. However, he must stop conceding soft goals that can affect momentum. It would also be preferable if he can up his save percentage from its current .908 rate he’s at.

Chicago (11-3-2)

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Hometown hero Jonathan Toews makes his initial visit to the MTS Centre this season. So far, the Blackhawks captain has put up good numbers (4G, 8A in 16 games) but he will always be defined for his leadership skills and his will to win. The Blackhawks are off to a strong start and Toews is an important cog to the machine.

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Despite not having a goal so far this season, Duncan Keith is making a case for the Norris Trophy. His 51.2% corsi is excellent, when you consider he averages roughly 28 minutes of ice time per game. Expect Keith to match up against Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine as much as possible.

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Corey Crawford was once considered a weakness in the Blackhawks lineup. Not any more. His .934 save percentage is in the top 10 and it’s well above the league average. Crawford’s stellar play between the pipes is a big reason why the Blackhawks own the best record in the Western Conference.

Predictions:

Game Prediction: The Blackhawks have played well at the MTS Centre, going 6-1 in the Manitoba capital since 2013. But we’re a Jets site and we like going against the grain. Jets win 4-3. 

Obvious Prediction: At some point, Dennis Beyak will mention that Jonathan Toews grew up in St. Vital sending hearts aflutter in South Winnipeg.

Not So Obvious Prediction: Let’s call it here. Chase De Leo scores his first NHL goal.