With three straight wins to their name, the Winnipeg Jets venture out on a 3 game road stand, with their first stop at the Bell Centre in Montreal against the Canadiens, before taking on their natural geographical rivals in Florida.
The Winnipeg Jets have 3 wins in a row, and there is much buzz about town as thoughts are racing ahead to the post season. Before parade routes can be planned, the Jets need to prove they can consistently perform well on the road, and a 3 game road swing this week provides ample opportunity to prove to their fans, critics and themselves that they are capable of such a task.
First up is a Montreal team that is performing better than most experts expected at the start of the season, a script that should sound familiar to Jets fans. The Habs have also won 3 in a row, as Andrei markov has lead the charge offensively, while the club has gotten stellar play from goalie Carey Price during this time as Montreal looks to regain playoff form after a season that saw them come in last in the Eastern Conference.
Two key pieces will be missing for the Canadiens tonight, as Max Pacioretty underwent an emergency appendectomy on the weekend, while P.K. Subban is only likely to debut on the weekend after signing a two year deal with Montreal last night.
These teams met 4 times last year, and this was another instance of Winnipeg under performing against a non-playoff team. The Jets lost 3 times to Montreal despite finishing the season with 6 more wins.
Keys to the Game:
- Depth Scoring: The top lines were at it again on Sunday night, but the Jets got goals from a defender and two from the third line, and depth scoring such as that is necessary if they want to reach the post season. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alexander Burmistrov each found the twine as the third unit was able to find the scoresheet.
- Jokinen Around: Olli Jokinen came about as close to an overtime winner as one can get without getting it, but the veteran was surely happy to get an assist and open his scoring with the Jets. The Finn has had a number of chances, but this was the first one he could attach his name to and it's good to see that chemistry forming so quickly with Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler.
- Offensive Defense: And when I say offensive, I mean it in a bad way. The Jets won despite suspect goaltending and defense on Sunday. The defense was sound for the overwhelming majority of the game, but a few major gaffes lead to goals against. Look for a better game from Tobias Enstrom tonight, as that was as snake bitten as I had ever seen him play, as he is usually the defensively sound half of the Jets' top D pairing.
- At least it wasn't Chara: Montreal will be without the services of their 2011-2012 team leader in points, as Max Pacioretty went under the knife for an appendectomy and will be missing the next 3-4 weeks. Pacioretty had put up 4 assists in 3 games before being felled by that pesky little appendix.
- Markin' Markov: After a missing the first 69 games of the last season, Andrei Markov looks to keep his injury riddled past behind him. He has started off in fine form this year, as the Habs are no doubt happy that the 34 year old is still able to produce offensively, as he has 4 goals and an assist in 4 games played. One still has to wonder if Markov can play a full season, something he hasn't done since 2007-2008. Since that season he has played just 145 games. When in form, as he is now, Markov is an elite defender in this league and the Jets will have to ensure they shut him down if they want the W.
- Can Price Carey the Habs? Stellar play by the Montreal goalie thus far has the Montreal faithful looking at Carey Price like Winnipeg fans are looking at Ondrej Pavelec. Price had what has to be considered a down season last year, as his stats took a dip, compared to the previous seasons where he was getting better as the years went by. This season he has started out with a .936 save percentage and has 3 wins in 4 starts, which is a little too high to be maintainable, but still better that what was seen last season.
Player to boo mercilessly:
With Max Pacioretty out, and P.K. Subban only likely entering the lineup on Saturday, I'll go with Carey Price in this spot. Caaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!
Winnipeg Jets 3
Montreal Canadiens 2 - F