Julien makes his return to Montreal after replacing Michel Therrien as the team’s head coach earlier this week. Hailed as a “superstar” by Marc Bergevin upon arrival, expectations will rightfully be high.
Of course, we must keep in mind that Julien has had just one practice with his new club — a club which has just one win in its last seven games.
Having not played since Sunday, the Canadiens have had plenty of time to rest and refocus. A message was sent when Therrien was fired over the bye week, and now we’ll see how the Habs respond.
How to watch
Puck drop: 2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST
In Canada: CBC, SN (English), TVA Sports (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.84||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||48.74|
|1.23||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.89|
Looking to spoil Julien’s return will be the Winnipeg Jets; a team that has had just as many struggles in recent weeks as have the Habs. With a single win in their past six contests, the Jets now find themselves outside of a wild card spot while having played more games than any other team in the league.
This afternoon’s meeting with the Habs represents the first game of a back-to-back for the Jets, who will travel to Ottawa on Sunday. This makes it a bit uncertain as to who will suit up in goal for the Jets, who have been carrying three goaltenders as of late.
Ondrej Pavelec has been injured but is listed as day-to-day and is traveling with the team. Connor Hellebuyck has been the best of the Jets’ netminders this season and has fulfilled the role of starter for much of the year. Still, with a .910 save percentage, Hellebuyck hasn’t shined this season, either. Granted, he hasn’t had a ton of help.
With one of the league’s worst shot differentials, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that the Jets are routinely outscored. With that being said, a slew of Jets’ forwards have caused grief for opposing goaltenders all season, led by the duo of Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine.
The young pair seems to be getting the best out of each other, as Scheifele is on pace to finish the season above a point-per-game pace for the first time in his young career. Laine, meanwhile, has been everything he was advertised to be, with 27 goals already in his rookie season.
Nikolaj Ehlers is another Jets youngster that has been impressive this year, taking a step forward in his sophomore season. With Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little (who has missed quite a bit of time this season) also in the fray, the Jets’ shooters must be respected. Yet, the team sits in the bottom third of the league when it comes to goals for at even strength.
Winnipeg’s defence took a hit last week when Toby Enstrom went down to an injury that will keep him out for at least a couple of weeks. Tyler Myers has been sidelined since November, leaving a big hole on the team’s blue line. Dustin Byfuglien has maintained solid numbers this year, but is now without much in the way of help.
This is the second time these teams will meet this season, having last faced off in Winnipeg in January. That contest saw the Habs emerge victorious after netting seven goals; a performance that Claude Julien would no doubt like to see repeated in his first game as the Habs’ head coach since the 2005-06 season.