Nothing has gone to plan for the Chicago Blackhawks this season. Less than a decade or so ago, the Blackhawks were widely regarded as Stanley Cup contenders on a yearly basis but this is the start of an expected decline. Joel Quenneville’s side will need to be smart during the trade season if they want to rebuild and challenge next season.
But enough about the Blackhawks, this encounter is all about the Winnipeg Jets. Second in the Western Conference’s Central Division, the Jets are guaranteed a favourable fixture in the playoffs – only the Nashville Predators (109) have accumulated more points during the regular campaign.
Canadian sports fans will be hoping that Winnipeg are the real deal as the race for Stanley Cup glory heats up. At the time of writing, the Jets are valued at 11/1 with bet365 to lift ice hockey’s ultimate prize and it would take a brave man to back against Winnipeg on current form. A convincing win here will cement their status as a top contender…
Blackhawks Must Start Re-Building Process
Chicago have had their day in the sun but that successful era is over; it is time to rebuild the entire organisation. Keeping a couple of star names is important but wholesale changes are needed in order to ensure that nobody is caught up in the success of previous regimes.
Sitting at the bottom of the Central Division, the Blackhawks are in dire need of a confidence boosting victory. It won’t mean much but Chicago may push to try and spoil Winnipeg’s push for the highest possible playoff spot. Don’t write the Blackhawks off just yet…
KEY MAN: Patrick Kane. Kane is still Chicago’s man for the big stage and he could be set for another huge effort in this fixture. Currently 20 points clear of his nearest teammate at the top of the Blackhawks points charts, Kane has managed to win matches more or less on his own this year.
There’s no denying that Kane is a supreme talent but could Chicago trade him at the end of the campaign? The Blackhawks would certainly receive a lucrative package in exchange for Kane and that could tempt the Chicago organisation.
Jets On Verge Of Big Things
Whilst Chicago are struggling, Winnipeg are soaring. The Jets are on an upward trajectory to Stanley Cup success and that could be on the cards this year. You certainly wouldn’t back against them on current form – they are on a six-match winning streak.
Winning the Stanley Cup is obviously tough but the Jets look well placed to push on and compete for ice hockey’s biggest prize. Many believe that Winnipeg are in a better place to challenge than the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference.
KEY MAN: Blake Wheeler. With 86 points so far this season, Wheeler is up there with the top players in the NHL. The Jets star has been simply sublime in recent months and he will be key to their chances of Stanley Cup success this year.
Wheeler has notched eight points in his last five games; a sensational run of form. If he can maintain those kind of figures throughout the postseason, Winnipeg will be very difficult to beat.
We predicted a 4-1 victory for Winnipeg in this very same fixture less than three weeks ago and another win for the Canadian side looks likely. However, we’ll give Kane and co an extra goal this time around – Chicago will want to keep things close on home ice.
BLACKHAWKS 2-4 JETS