Chicago Blackhawks Cannot Get Complacent Against Winnipeg Jets

Patrick Sharp

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012-13 NHL season is long gone. The Chicago Blackhawks‘ summer celebration has officially ended as the seasons change, winter looms and the new season continues onward.

As far as strong starts go, this season is certainly understated simply due to the fact that not much can compare with last year’s points streak. Weaknesses have not only been shown to the rest of the league, but exploited and cost the team plenty of points.

Another issue to worry about is the health of the team, and whether the next man up is better than the player he replaces, as is the case with the injured Michal Handzus and current second line center Brandon Pirri.

It is unlikely, however, that Handzus will return Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets, whom the Blackhawks will be facing for the second time in five days. The Blackhawks dispatched the Jets during their first meeting, a 5-1 rout which proved to be one of the most complete efforts the team has had to date.

It was also the third game of what is now a four-game points streak for Marian Hossa. Since being moved to the top line along with Patrick Sharp, Hossa’s game has reached a prolific level, bolstered only by his ability to remain healthy as the season wears on.

Sharp, for his part, has added four points over the last four games, completing what has become a lethal combination at the top line. With Jonathan Toews anchoring the combination, expect a frenetic, confident pace to open up tomorrow’s game.

The Jets, for their part, have also won their lone game since last facing the Blackhawks, with Chicago native Al Montoya getting the win. The Blackhawks will also be inclined to push the pace tomorrow considering the condition of Evander Kane, one of Winnipeg’s better players, who is day to day with an unspecified injury.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486.

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