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Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens

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The Jets will play their final road game of the 2017-2018 regular season tonight in the House that Jocelyn Thibault Built.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets
Jan 11, 2017; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Daniel Carr (43) chases the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at MTS Centre. 
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 6:30 PM CDT

Channel: TSN3, TSN2, RDS

Radio: TSN1290

The Winnipeg Jets (49-20-10) voyaged down the Ottawa River last night after beating the Senators in order to take on tonight’s opponent: the Montreal Canadiens (28-39-12). While I’m pretty confident they didn’t travel by boat, it is a possibility.

If the Montreal Canadiens season was a boat, it would have sunk a while ago. The Habs have the fourth worst record in the NHL, and have been out of postseason contention for some time, and were officially eliminated from the race on March 21.

Part of the struggle is due in part to this being Carey Price’s worst season in the NHL. Price missed chunks of time while dealing with a lower body injury and a concussion this season, as he has put up a 16-25-6 record with a .902 save percentage and a 3.05 goals against average. However, he will set a record tonight, becoming the Habs goalie with the most games played in team history, passing the legend Jacques Plante as he plays his 557th game as a Canadien.

While goals against have been a struggle, goals for has been even worse. Montreal sits 30th out of 31 teams with just 199 goals for. On the flip side, Winnipeg is third with 266.

Six of those 266 goals came yesterday against Ottawa, with a pretty meh performance that resulted in two points. The Jets have tumbled out of the top five in penalty killing, and their tendency to take dumb penalties has returned. Both of these things need to be sorted if any sort of postseason success is to be had.

In their last 10 games, the top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler has combined for 32 points, with Scheifele only playing in eight of those games. The offensive surge comes as Patrik Laine has fallen into a slump since that blocked shot forced him to leave a game, and it makes me wonder if or how much that might be affecting him. Laine has 17 shots but no points since the injury. Laine sits three goals back of Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals. Laine has three games remaining, Ovechkin has two.

Speaking of injuries, I am of the opinion that Steve Mason will start tonight, based on observations made in recent days. This would delay Connor Hellebuyck’s attempt to equal the record for most wins by an American goalie in an NHL season, as he sits one back of Tom Barrasso’s 43 wins obtained during the 1992-93 season.

Winnipeg Jets: 49-20-10

Stat Leaders:

Goals: Patrik Laine (43)

Assists: Blake Wheeler (67)

Points: Wheeler (89)

Goalie Stat Leaders:

Wins: Connor Hellebuyck (42)

Goals Against Average: Hellebuyck (2.40)

Save Percentage: Hellebuyck (.922)

Minutes: Hellebuyck (3,846)

Special Teams: PP 23.5% (4th), PK 81.6% (10th)

Montreal Canadiens: 28-39-12

Stat Leaders:

Goals: Brendan Gallagher (30)

Assists: Alex Galchenyuk (31)

Points: Gallagher (51)

Goalie Stat Leaders:

Wins: Carey Price (16)

Goals Against Average: Antti Niemi (2.42)

Save Percentage: Niemi (.931)

Minutes: Niemi (2,733)

Special Teams: PP 21.4% (11th), PK 74.3% (30th)

PREDICTION: JETS 4 HABS 1

OPPONENT’S BLOG: EYES ON THE PRIZE