Sometimes the favoured team loses. Sometimes two favoured teams lose. Sometimes those favoured teams both lose and we end up with an impossibly fun series that could go either way and that’s good. You heard that right, folks the Winnipeg Jets will be facing the Montreal Canadiens in the second round!
The Habs are a good match up for the Jets. Both teams appear to be about even although the Habs are without Jonathan Drouin who is away from the team for an indefinite period of time for personal reasons (we ask that no one brings this up as this is something that the Habs have stressed is a personal issue he needs to be away from the team to deal with). No making fun of that. When we go low, we keep it on the ice.
Outside of missing Drouin, the Habs are a lot like the Jets. Their defence is quite capable of making things harder than they have to, the whole idea of a controlled break out is foreign to them, and they love to make their goalie’s life harder than it should be. This series should be great fun to watch on all facets. The real thing to watch with the Habs is to see if they play Alexander Romanov at all. He did not play against the Leafs, but both Cole Caulfield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were scratched at the start of the series only to become key cogs in the wheel. Never try and make sense of the Habs because nothing will ever make sense.
The next one is the goalie. Carey Price has been great these playoffs after missing chunks of the regular season with a couple injuries including a concussion from which he returned for two periods of AHL action to get some playing in before starting in the playoffs. He was a large part of the Habs beating the Toronto Maple Leafs and could become a thorn in the Jets side as well. That said, you never know what will happen with a goalie. I kept on thinking Mike Smith would turn into a pumpkin and he never did. Anything is possible.
As for the forwards, only one team has the best winger in the North and that team is not the Toronto Maple Leafs no matter what fans tried to tell me last week. Nikolaj Ehlers is still playing while Leafs fans want to trade Mitch Marner for whatever they can. It is glorious. The Habs do have some weird coaching decisions like Tomas Tatar being scratched for two games, but they also have solid depth and talent up and down their forward lines. While someone like Cole Caulfield has an incredibly thin NHL resume, he has already had success at filling the net at the NHL level. Even the less talented forwards on the Habs are useful, or do you forget Joel Armia. It should be fun.
Finally, coaching. I touched on the weird and interesting lineup decisions all playoffs from Ducharme and I do not think that will end. On the other hand, Paul Maurice is old faithful and as the person writing the previews and GDTs, I thank him. He just doesn’t like change. As for the rest of the coaching, he surprised me against the Oilers so anything is Paul-sible.