The Jets have climbed back to .500 after their 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Winnipeg is sitting at fifth in the Central Division and needs a win to keep pace with the rest of their division rivals. The Canadiens are coming off a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks and, while it isn't reflected in their win-loss margin, are off to a pretty strong start to the year averaging 3.4 goals per game (8th in the league) and 2.0 goals against (5th in the league). As with every all-Canadian matchups there should be an electric environment at the MTS Centre and a few more fans wearing the oppositions jerseys than there were Sunday versus the Devils. The Habs will likely turn to Carey Price to get the start. Price is 2-2 as a starter this season, with a goals against average of 2.27 and a save percentage of .929%. It appears that the Jets will counter with Ondrej Pavelec who will be looking to bounce back from a horrific showing versus the Dallas Stars on Friday night.
Keys to the Game
Score First: The Jets absolutely need to get off to a hot start versus the Habs. If you go too long to start off the game without scoring a goal on Carey Price he can get into a rhythm and make life a living hell for the Jets. Not to mention the Jets have shown a tendency to check out of games for a period at a time. As we saw versus Dallas, if they allow a few early, things can snowball into a long painful evening.
Protect Pavelec: Odds are that the Jet's netminder is a little shaken up after his last start. Making sure that the chances he see's early on are not quality looks will help build up confidence and hopefully allow him to get into a groove. Another thing that would go a long way in protecting Pavs would be to avoiding going down a man. The Habs are 7th in the league in power play percentage at 28.6%. The less time they spend with the man advantage, the more of a chance the Jets have to win the game.
Keep Composure: The Habs are full of talented players that have a tendency to get under the oppositions skin. The Jets can't fall into the trap of trying to get into it with Brendan Gallagher or PK Subban and then get burned for a bad goal or suckered into taking a bad penalty. They simply have too much talent to play a reckless game against.
Keys for the Habs.
Keep the crowd out of it: By holding the Jets off the scoreboard or getting an early lead the Habs should be able to get the already frustrated Winnipeg crowd to turn on the team to a certain extent. The boo birds have already been out a few times this year at home and in year three it appears the honeymoon is over, and the crowd expects a win. Things get especially volatile in the MTS Centre when there is a heavier presence of opposing fans, this will likely be the case tonight and could end up being an advantage for Montreal.
Contain Kane: Evander Kane had been a one man line his first two years in Winnipeg. While he has a lot more help this season there still hasn't been a consistent pairing for him to build chemistry with. The reality of facing Evander Kane is that it doesn't matter who he's playing with, he can make something out of nothing and disrupt everything you are trying to do on defense. If the Habs want to win this game they need to make sure they keep Evander off the scoreboard and try to make him give up the puck. Once he gets on a roll he is near impossible to stop.
Score early: Beat Pavelec a couple times early on and the odds are the team will crumble. It's not that the Jets lack mental toughness, it's just the reality of the situation between the pipes. If they fall behind early they start to worry about giving up chances the other way because they've seen them hit the back of the net. The Habs will likely come out flying to start the game trying to jump out to the crucial early lead.
Player to boo mercilessly
Brendan Gallagher. He's only in his second year, but he's a pro at getting under the other teams skin. Plus he's really good.
I can't pick against the Jets in my first preview. So while I don't feel great about it...
Jets - 4
Habs - 3
Video to make you laugh at people that are different than you:
French Canada (via Spcollector)