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The Winnipeg Jets have had the Chicago Blackhawks number this season. After they won the first two games of the season series by a combined score of 11-2, they picked up their third straight win on Friday night with a 3-1 beating of their Central Division foes.
Jarred Tinordi’s Surprise Return, Exit, and Return Again
Jarred Tinordi had been on the ice the last couple of days, but he was not expected to return until Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals. However, moments before the team took to the ice for pregame warmups, the Blackhawks announced that the rugged defenseman had been activated off the injured reserve list and would be in the lineup versus the Jets. Caleb Jones was the odd man out with Tinordi’s return.
Head coach Luke Richardson has sung the praises of Tinordi all season long. He appreciates the blueliner’s physical presence on a nightly basis and was happy to have him on the ice versus a heavy team like Winnipeg. That was proven by Tinordi and Connor Murphy drawing the starting assignment against the Jets’ top line.
Tinordi’s night was a strange one. He left a trail of blood after getting hit in the mouth on the game’s opening shift. He did not return until the second period and was sporting a face shield.
Tinordi finished the night with 10:46 of ice time on 15 shifts and produced three hits and a blocked shot. Seth Jones called him a warrior after the game. He also mentioned that it would be critical for the Blackhawks to play physically and with an attitude going forward. Tinordi will be one of the players leading that charge.
Big Benefit for Ian Mitchell
It has been a rough season for Ian Mitchell. This was supposed to be his time to solidify an NHL roster spot, but a wrist injury kept him out of training camp and dropped him on the depth chart. Once he was healthy enough to return, he began the season with the Rockford IceHogs. He has had just three games in two NHL stints this season.
In just over 42 minutes of 5v5 ice time, Mitchell has no points, a minus-4 rating, and 31.7 Corsi for percentage (CF%). Head coach Luke Richardson looked to help him out by pairing him with Jake McCabe against the Jets.
“Jake’s a hard guy in the zone,” Richardson said of the move after the morning skate. “So, when he goes into a corner, he generally hits and pins his guys. He settles things down. You’re not running and switching a lot, which will help a guy like Mitchell. Ian’s a guy who can scoop those pucks and skate and move the puck. That’s kind of his forte, moving the puck and shooting it—the less time in the D zone for him, the better.
“Jake’s very vocal on the ice as well. He settles things down, and you get to not just see what he’s doing but hear what he’s doing. And that lets you decide what you want to do quicker and need to do in the D zone.”
Mitchell played with McCabe and Murphy during the first period after Tinordi went down to injury. Cole Perfetti victimized him on the first goal of the night.
Richardson’s hope of getting Mitchell more time in the offensive zone didn’t exactly come to fruition. The young defender spent much of his evening stuck in his own end. In 8:52 of 5v5 ice time during the first two periods, Mitchell was on the ice for just four shot attempts for to 15 against.
The defensive pairings were mixed up again in the final frame, and Mitchell found himself teamed up with Jack Johnson. Things improved as the duo was on the ice for six shot attempts for to four against in just under four minutes of 5v5 ice time. Mitchell had 2:05 of ice time quarterbacking the second power-play unit but only generated one shot on goal.
Reese Johnson to the Rescue
While Tinordi has an established reputation for being a tough guy, Reese Johnson is slowly gaining one as well. Last Sunday against the New York Islanders, he dropped the gloves with Casey Cizikas, who injured goaltender Alex Stalock back on Nov. 1. Stalock told reporters earlier this week that he appreciated Johnson’s fight and said he earned a lot of respect within the locker room.
Johnson earned more respect tonight. Midway through the second period, Dylan DeMelo caught Collin Blackwell up high with a shoulder. Johnson immediately jumped DeMelo to defend his teammate.
Johnson was given a four-minute double minor for roughing, while DeMelo was given two minutes for an illegal check to the head and another two minutes for roughing. Perhaps an illegal check to the head should be more than a two-minute minor, but that’s a topic for another day.
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