The Winnipeg Jets are bad. The Montreal Canadiens are a disappointment. That’s a sad way to build up Saturday night’s matchup at the MTS Centre but here we are. The game will be televised nationally on Sportsnet but I think the folks at Rogers are wondering if there is alternative programming instead.
These two teams met back on November 1, with the Habs emerging with a 5-1 victory.
It may be dark times for the Jets but the top line of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers have been a bright spot lately. However, Ehlers took a shot to the face Thursday night against the New York Islanders and will be out indefinitely according to head coach Paul Maurice. That summarizes the Jets 2015-16 season in a nutshell. Any bright spot has been trumped by tragedy and awful luck.
Anthony Peluso left the game Thursday with an upper-body injury after crashing into the crossbar. The big right-winger is expected to miss 3-4 weeks of action.
Maurice: Peluso upper body injury-best case scenario is 3-4 weeks. Ehlers took puck off visor, which broke. Don’t know extent of injury yet.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 4, 2016
JC Lipon was called up from the Manitoba Moose and is expected to replace Peluso in the lineup.
The other big news is that Josh Morrissey has been called up and could very well see his first NHL action on Saturday. With the Jets having no chance at a playoff spot, now is a good time for the 2013 first round pick to get a taste of what the NHL is like. The Jets are bereft of left-handed defenceman and Morrissey could fill that void next season.
Both goalies are struggling so at this rate, it doesn’t matter too much who’s between the pipes. Which goalie can break out of their respective slump between now and the end of the season will have the inside track to sharing the crease with Connor Hellebuyck next season.
The top line of Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher are a solid trio that have a good blend of speed, imagination and pluck to make life miserable for their opponents.
Plenty of new faces for Montreal. Phillip Danault came over from Chicago in the Dale Wiese trade. Stefan Matteau, the son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau was acquired in a deal that sent Devante Smith-Pelly to New Jersey. Michael McCarron was called up from St. John’s last week and his 6-6, 230 pound frame will be something the Jets have to contend with.
For someone having an “off season”, PK Subban remains one of the best defenders in the NHL. He leads the Habs in points with 50 points (6G, 44A) and is a dynamic a player you’ll see anywhere. Sure he makes mistakes but his strengths far outweigh his shortcomings. He should have been named to Team Canada’s preliminary roster for this fall’s World Cup but alas he was snubbed. He will make the squad but it still shows the old guard that runs hockey hasn’t caught up to Subban’s game.
Make no mistake, the Canadiens dearly miss Carey Price. Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens haven’t been terrible but the Habs are a much different team when Price is between the pipes. His absence is the main reason why the Canadiens currently sit 8 points out of the final Wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with 4 teams ahead of them.
Game Day Prediction: The Jets have come close in their last two outings and are overdue for a win at home. The Jets are winless in six at the MTS Centre. The Canadiens are travelling from Los Angeles and will be a tired team. Going on a hunch. Jets win 5-4.
Obvious Prediction: There will be plenty of Bleu, Blanc et Rouge supporters in the house. Expect plenty of noise when the Canadiens score.
Not So Obvious Prediction: With Ehlers out, I’m calling that Joel Armia has a strong game and he may see some time with the top line.