Blackhawks Look to Ground Jets in Central Division Showdown

Blackhawks Toews
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The Chicago Blackhawks have lost three straight games, but they’ll have an opportunity to improve their fortunes on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets to the United Center.

The game not only represents an opportunity to break their losing streak, but it’s also the first opportunity for Bryan Bickell to make an impact since he was demoted to Rockford earlier this season. In 12 games with the Rockford IceHogs, Bickell registered seven goals and seven assists, and the Hawks are hopeful that he will provide their offense with a spark that they desperately need.

As has been the case through most of the season, the Blackhawks’ only real production on offense is coming from their second line. Patrick Kane is going to be trying to break Bobby Hull’s franchise record for longest point streak in Sunday’s game, and rookie Artemi Panarin is considered a front-runner for the Calder Trophy this season.

Outside of those players, the Blackhawks haven’t been getting the production they need from other players. Marian Hossa has bounced all over the lineup as Joel Quenneville looks to spark him, and Jonathan Toews has gone through bouts of ineffectiveness as his linemates have continuously changed since the start of the year.

The Blackhawks will also need to get their transition passing going off of the blue line. Even with Duncan Keith back in the lineup, stretch passes through traffic haven’t been connecting, and that has allowed teams to rob the Hawks of a critical part of their offense at a time when they need to be able to find different ways of generating scoring chances.

As for the Jets, they’re a team that is capable of scoring a ton of goals, but defensively they are far from stout. They have the third-worst defense in the league, allowing three goals per game, and their penalty kill also ranks in the bottom ten in the NHL. Their goaltending hasn’t been great this season, but with a porous blue line, the Hawks should get some serious scoring chances in this game.

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