Well, if you're going to twist our arms...
The Jets and Canadiens meet in Montreal in nearly the opposite situation tonight, with the Habs wallowing in the bottom of the Northeast Division (3-7-0 in the last 10 games) and the Jets in a hot race for the top of the Southeast (6-3-1 in the last 10). At the same time, we have to be aware that we have yet to play particularly well on the road (a problem for many teams), and the Canadiens
are not quite as bad as their record indicates are nut-dirt terrible (because we like losing to those kinds of teams).
On the flip side, we are playing well, our goaltending is bouncing back strong, and there's the possibility we'll get Bryan Little back within the next couple of games (possibly tonight). Let's also remember that we won last time thanks to Randy Cunneyworth's inability to speak French, so we'll want to be sure to hammer on that hard this evening.
Keys to the game and lineup after the jump...
Keys to the Game
- See if our forwards can take advantage of the Raphael Diaz or Hal Gill, particularly if they are paired with Tomas Kaberle, Yannick Weber, or Alexei Emelin. They haven't done particularly well defensively, and we know just about anybody can generate offence against Kaberle, Weber, or Emelin.
- Remember when the Habs ran all over us in our opener? Their speed killed us, and even though they don't have Brian Gionta or Scott Gomez around (due to injury), Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec can still give us a run. I'm sure Noel will be sure to have those guys matched up appropriately.
- Montreal does not take a ton of penalties, so please please please don't take any.
#9 Evander Kane - #14 Tim Stapleton - #26 Blake Wheeler
#16 Andrew Ladd - #80 Nik Antropov - #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass - #8 Alexander Burmistrov - #20 Antti Miettinen
#17 Eric Fehr - #19 Jim Slater - #22 Chris Thorburn
#39 Tobias Enstrom - #6 Ron Hainsey
#29 Johnny Oduya - #4 Zach Bogosian
#5 Mark Stuart - #12 Randy Jones
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
I chose to leave Bryan Little (#18) out for the moment, as the Jets might play it safe and play him in the second game. I'll switch it around if need be. If he does play, it might bump Steam Punk off the top line. Also, it looks like Jim Slater and Randy Jones have returned.
#67 Max Pacioretty - #14 Tomas Plekanec - #72 Erik Cole
#13 Mike Cammalleri - #51 David Desharnais - #45 Mike Blunden
#32 Travis Moen - #81 Lars Eller - #46 Andrei Kostitsyn
#52 Mathieu Darche - #15 Petteri Nokelainen - Lots of people
#26 Josh Gorges - #76 P.K. Subban
#74 Alexei Emelin - #61 Raphael Diaz
#75 Hal Gill - #22 Tomas Kaberle
#31 Carey Price
The 4th line and those defensive pairings are a bit of an adventure lately, as Cunneyworth has been doing a lot of rearranging. Yannick Weber (#68) has been floating around, getting plugged into the forward lines here and there, but he could just as likely swap into the defensive shuffle.
Player to boo without mercy: Carey Price. I will always say this with the Habs.
Prediction: Winnipeg 1, Montreal 2
Tough game, tough venue, let's hope the Jets can start 2012 on a positive note.