How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Jets region: TSN3
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
After two games being outplayed by the Calgary Flames, the Canadiens finally got the win in the last of three meetings in that series, a big win to gain some separation from their competitor in the standings. Given how Montreal has performed since their season-opening hot streak, we should have expected that Wednesday would bring another defeat for a team that tends to alternate wins and losses. The Habs weren’t outplayed versus the Leafs, but they were outgunned, and just matching Toronto chance for chance isn’t a recipe for success.
The Canadiens haven’t yet found the right ingredients to prepare for their matchups with the Jets, either. Winnipeg has six wins in eight tries, and while three of those have come after regulation, they’ve always come up with the edge necessary to come out on top.
Tale of the Tape
|54.6% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||48.2% (22nd)|
|2.83 (15th)||Goals per game||3.06 (12th)|
|2.85 (15th)||Goals against per game||2.78 (14th)|
|19.1% (21st)||PP%||25.4% (4th)|
|77.1% (25th)||PK%||80.2% (14th)|
Tonight the season series wraps up between the teams most likely to finish third and fourth in the North Division. If both make it, they won’t meet in the first round, but could be second-round opponents if they can upset some superstar-filled teams in round one, so they should be not only looking to cap the nine-game set with a win, but make a statement for that potential seven-game battle.
To get to round one, the Habs don’t need to win every game they play thanks to the lead they’ve built, but they do need to pick up their current pace. They’ve slipped into a pattern of two losses for every win in the past couple of weeks as injuries have piled up, either winning by one goal or losing by several. Tyler Toffoli can only light the lamp so many times for the team, so he’ll need to see some other members step up offensively to join him on the scoreboard.
Versus the Jets at least, the offence hasn’t really been the issue. Montreal has averaged 2.88 goals through the first eight game, their second-favourite defence to line up against after the porous Vancouver Canucks blue line. The Habs’ own defence, which was so strong in the post-season last year and supposed to be even better this time around, has been the biggest reason for their lack of success against the club formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers. Not even the Auston Matthews-led Maple Leafs have scored at the rate the Jets have, who net 3.50 goals per game to this point.
Kyle Connor has fired six of his 22 goals behind Canadiens netminders, especially lethal on a power play that ranks fourth in the NHL. But it’s not just the team’s top scorer that has victimized the Canadiens. Paul Stastny has three, as does Mathieu Perreault who only has nine on the season. Nate Thompson, Trevor Lewis, Josh Morrissey, and Derek Forbort have a combined 10 goals on the season; all have celebrated at least one versus Montreal.
What we’ve seen is a Jets team that has the advantages most of us thought the Canadiens held over their division rivals this year: a defence capable of scoring a few goals, and productive depth throughout the forward lines. Winnipeg has stolen the identity of Merc Bergevin’s team, and Montreal will need to fight to get it back if they want to end this series on a winning note.