The Chicago Blackhawks are in for one tough stretch at a crucial time in the season. They will face all of Western Canada while trying to stay in the race.
The Chicago Blackhawks are now about to hit their most important stretch of the season. It might even be their most important regular-season stretch in recent years because of the magnitude of these games. As you may have heard, it is a very road-heavy month for the Blackhawks. They are only a few points out so remaining good away from the United Center is crucial to their chances.
They are now about to embark on a long trip to the end of Western Canada and back. It starts against the Winnipeg Jets tonight. Then they will go play the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames before returning to Winnipeg to close out the trip against the Jets again. It is a stretch against four Western Canadian teams that all want to make the playoffs.
The Jets start and end the trip. You know about the great players they have in Winnipeg. With Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor leading the way you can expect offense in bunches. Their defense has taken a major hit since the end of last season but Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the best goalies in the league this season.
The Jets are one of those teams that are only three points ahead of the Hawks amongst other teams for that final spot in the Western Conference. Both of these teams are going to come into the game with tremendous pressure to come to play well. Winning every single game is so important to these two teams right now. The Hawks have been really good at collecting points in games they don’t play well in lately, but they need to get back in the win column here.
This is a trip where the top guns need to be their normal elite selves. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been awesome once again this year. Hopefully, DeBrincat shaking his goal-scoring slump against the Boston Bruins last time out will give him a boost. Then, Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner need to continue being complete rocks in the blue paint. If those things happen, this team has to like its chances.
Winnipeg will certainly not be easy, but it is the type of game that the Hawks can use to set the tone for the rest of the trip. A win here will get them even closer to a playoff spot. The Jets being one of those teams they are chasing makes it that much more intriguing.