Winnipeg Jets (17-10-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (23-9-2)
|Date & Time||Tuesday December 23, 2014, 8:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks -240 / Winnipeg Jets +200 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
There might be hotter hockey clubs in the National Hockey League right now, but at the end of the day it’s hard to argue they’ll be better than the Chicago Blackhawks. Their winning streaks seem to pile up and their losing streaks always seem to end after just a single game. At 23-9-2 they lead the highly competitive Central Division by three points over the St. Louis Blues and their 8-1-1 streak in their last 10 games is tied with Columbus for second overall behind the San Jose Sharks. Chicago has scored 106 goals this season which is good for third in the league, and their 67 goals against is second to only Nashville. After a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets the Blackhawks bounced back nicely on Sunday night at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Chicago controlled the opening period and finally got on the board on David Runblad’s first goal of the season. With just one second remaining in the opening period it was Kris Versteeg with his ninth of the year to make it a 2-0 lead for the home team. The Blackhawks would hold that lead until the third period when Patrick Kane would convert for his 16th of the season with the Blackhawks on the man advantage and Jonathan Toews adding his 13th of the year to finish the scoring in a 4-0 shutout. Chicago wasn’t having much trouble with Corey Crawford out of the lineup and that’s because of the play of Antti Raanta this year The 25 year-old Finnish netminder is 6-2-0 on the year with a 1.76 goals against average. Sunday night was Raanta’s second shutout of the season. Getting Crawford back give the Blackhawks yet another element for clubs to deal with but everyone has to feel good that they’ve had a backup come in and prove his worth when called upon. A victory at home over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday would give this club a really good feeling heading into the holidays.
This is the type of start that a lot of people would have expected from the Winnipeg Jets to start the season. This is a hockey club that isn’t as bad as some of the more dreadful teams in the league but they just don’t have the talent overall to compete in such a difficult Western Conference. Unfortunately for the Jets and their fan base that most likely means missing the post season and not being able to secure a top five draft pick at the same time. Winnipeg had won two consecutive games heading into the final game of their home stand against the Philadelphia Flyers, but they couldn’t take advantage of a goaltender making his first career NHL start. After falling behind just 46 seconds into the game the Jets rallied for two first period goals to take a lead with them into the intermission. Matt halischuk and Dustin Byfuglien scored less than a minute apart to give them that lead, and in the second period it was Mathieu Perreault’s sixth of the season that looked like it could be the difference maker in this one. Instead, the Jets were unable to hold onto a two goal third period lead. Vincent Lecavalier scored twice for the Flyers and just 10 seconds into overtime Jakub Voracek scored his second of the night to send the Jets to a tough 4-3 defeat. Ondrej Pavelec stopped just 19 of the 23 shots he faced on the night. His record dropped to 10-8-5 on the season.
This is going to be a tough game for the Jets but they have a chance to keep this one close. The number is extremely high so Chicago only seems playable on the puck line. The over seems like a better bet in this one.