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Canadiens vs Jets: Game preview, start time, & TV schedule

Can the Canadiens salvage their week with a win over its toughest opponent?

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens have saved the best for last. Having wrapped up a three-game trek through western Canada, the Habs are back at the Bell Centre tonight, ready to end the week in a duel with the Winnipeg Jets.

The Canadiens will enter the game with some momentum, having laid a beating on the far inferior Calgary Flames. While the Flames did carry the run of play for stretches, the Habs kept the lead throughout the contest, and poured it on in the third period. The effort in Calgary wasn't totally clean, but Montreal played well when it counted, and in the end, exposed Joni Ortio for six goals. They'll aim to do the same thing tonight in their return to more familiar confines.

How to Watch

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
In Canada (English):
Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 360
In the United States: NHLN-US
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Jets*
10-2-0 Record 6-3-1
8-2-0 L10 Record 6-3-1
52.5 Score-Adjusted Corsi % 50.4
45 Goals For 32
Goals Against 26
1.75 5v5 Goal Ratio 1.33
23.8 PP% 24.1
88.1 PK% 83.3

*All Jets statistics are prior to last night's game against the Blue Jackets.

Know Your Enemy

If the story of the Habs' young season is one of exceptional results achieved on the strength of an occasionally flawed process, the Winnipeg Jets may be experiencing the reverse. The results haven't been perfect — the Jets currently hold the second wildcard spot in the West — but they've come amidst some challenging circumstances.

The Jets are members of the NHL's toughest division: the ultra-competitive Central. Unlike Montreal's cushy divisional competition, each of Winnipeg's most common adversaries is playoff-calibre, with the dysfunctional Colorado Avalanche as the only exception. The Canadiens may be one of the league's deeper teams, but their roster won't faze the Jets; beating teams of Montreal's standing is a matter of survival for a franchise seeking its second playoff berth.

The Jets' strength lies with their veteran core, but has been complemented nicely by the development of a handful of younger players. The top line of Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, and Blake Wheeler is the Jets' power trio, taking the toughest competition and producing nonetheless. The role of the second line, comprised of Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, and Calder Trophy dark horse Nikolaj Ehlers, is akin to that of Montreal's David Desharnais - Dale Weise - Tomas Fleischmann line, working to exploit the lower portions of an opposing lineup. That opportunity is provided by the work of Winnipeg's resurgent third line, who have rebounded from early season struggles to become an effective secondary shutdown group.

If Winnipeg is to be successful tonight, they'll need that third line to continue to click, as in addition to allowing the second line some extra space, they also insulate a struggling fourth line. The bottom of the Jets' forward corps has been poor for the entirety of the organization's tenure in Manitoba, and even with the addition of youngsters Nic Petan and Andrew Copp to play alongside veteran Chris Thorburn, this year's iteration has been no different. With that fourth line playing sparingly at even strength, and the Canadiens bottom-six firing on all cylinders, the Habs may have an opportunity to exploit that weakness, and grind down the rest of the Jets by rolling fresh legs.

Last Time Out

The Canadiens would have had many of those same opportunities last spring, but on that night in late March, they simply couldn't take advantage. Ondrej Pavelec has a career .906 save percentage against Montreal, but he stifled the Habs as they launched 20 shot attempts toward the Winnipeg net in the first frame. With their barrage stymied, the Canadiens were forced to watch as Winnipeg took the game over, jumping out to leads of 2-0 and 4-1 before the second period was out.

The Habs won't have to deal with Pavelec tonight, in all likelihood, as he took on the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. That means Michael Hutchinson will have front row seats for what could be a chippy affair, as the Canadiens' resistance to the Jets' physical and aggressive style has caused sparks to fly between these two teams before.

With their 1-2 record on the week, the Canadiens have hit three quadrants of the effort/results matrix in their three games so far. With a good effort but poor results in Vancouver, poor play and an atrocious result in Edmonton, and a good win in a game that started out shakily in Calgary, the Habs are tracking toward finishing their week strongly. If the Canadiens can manage a good effort, get a good result, and do it against a good team, they may even be able to call their last week of October a success.