Chicago (25-21-8) at Winnipeg (28-23-5)
When: Sunday, February 9th, 2020
Where: Bell MTS Place,
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: NBCS Chicago
Opening Odds: Winnipeg -125/6.5
The Western Conference playoff race is about as tight as you can get and it will surely come down to the last week for at least the final spot, if not more. Two Central Division teams will battle Sunday night, as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Winnipeg Jets. Both teams sit outside of the top three spots in the division, and are separated by just three points. The Jets are currently seventh in the Western Conference, but the Blackhawks are on their heels and have won eight of their last ten games on the road. The Jets have not played well on home ice, losing nine of their last 12 games at Bell MTS Place, but are coming off a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon. This will also be the Jets second game in as many nights. The Blackhawks kick off a five-game road trip against teams above them in the standings, beginning with Sunday’s visit to Winnipeg. Although the Blackhawks are coming off back-to-back overtime losses to Minnesota and Boston, they have earned a point in eight of their last nine (6-1-2). The Hawks have won both games against the Jets this season including a 5-2 decision on Jan. 19. The road team in this series is 4-1 in the last five games, but Chicago is 1-5 in the last six games played in Winnipeg.
The Blackhawks have enjoyed the last three days off and their trip will start Sunday versus the Jets and will finish on February 16 back in Winnipeg. In the two wins against the Jets this season, the Hawks held Winnipeg to just three goals with Robin Lehner the goaltender of record for Chicago for both victories, making 72 saves on 75 shots. The Hawks penalty kill has been a major improvement over last season. Last year they finished dead last in the NHL and are currently ranked sixth in the league with an 83 percent success rate. Patrick Kane has a goal and four assists in the three matchups versus Winnipeg and has 13 goals and 23 assists in 26 road games. The Blackhawks will be at the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Patrik Laine netted his eighth career hat trick in a Jets victory over the Senators on Saturday afternoon. It was his first three goal game since November 24, 2018, and he surpasses Sidney Crosby for eighth place all-time for most goals scored before the age of 22 with 133. Kyle Connor exploded for a goal and three assists in the win, and Nikolaj Ehlers extended his point scoring streak to five games (goal and four assists). Laurent Brossoit started his first game since January 31 and will give way to Connor Hellebuyck for Sunday. Winnipeg continues their long homestand against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks are having trouble scoring over the last few games and they’ll have trouble keeping up with the high-flying Jets here. I’ll take Winnipeg to win this one with ease.
Pick: Jets -125