WTWF: Jets Road-trip Continues In La Belle Province

Just like a few weeks ago, the rink is going to be full of Montreal fans as the Jets take to the ice against the Canadiens on Monday night. Of course, this time around it’ll be in Montreal, so we won’t have to deal with complaints about Habs fans invading, but we still might gripe away about that ‘ole’ chant.

Here is what to watch for in tonight’s game…

Taking a look at the Habs

Montreal has lost five in a row and six of their last seven played and lately over the last few games their offense has all but dried up in no small part to a seemingly never ending string of injuries to key forwards.

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Don’t expect the Jets to have any sympathy though. That one lone win over their last seven games? It was that 6-2 butt kicking they delivered to the Jets on Winnipeg ice back on December 23. In that game Thomas Tatar has two goals which put him up to five goals and six assists in 12 games played against the Jets in his career.

The Jets will also likely see Carey Price in goal for the Habs as he’s pretty much owned the Jets franchise through his career posting a 15-5-4 record with a .925 save percentage.

New but familiar faces in both lineups?

Might we finally see defenseman Sami Niku back in the lineup for the Jets? He was called up from the AHL Moose on Thursday just before the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs but wasn’t put into the lineup which disappointed fans, but we figured he’d be in Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, only he wasn’t in the lineup for that game either which really annoyed everyone.

Given how poor the Jets defense has been this season it’s astonishing that Paul Maurice at the very least doesn’t want to get a look at him at the NHL level and at worst feels guys like Anthony Bitetto and Carl Dahlstrom are better options. Granted Sami has been hindered with multiple injuries this season but in 18 games played this season with the Manitoba Moose, he has 14 points (3G, 11A) and more than a few people have stated that his talent level is being wasted in the AHL. Montreal was also the place where Niku scored his first ever career NHL goal, so maybe that’s what Maurice has been waiting for? Who knows, but he had better be in the lineup tonight because this Jets fan bases is getting very restless.

Also possibly making his return to the Jets lineup tonight is one Andrew Copp who was seen in a regular practice jersey on Sunday. He’s been out of the lineup since December 17.

As for the Canadiens, they might have Ilya Kovalchuk making his Montreal debut tonight as well as he was seen in his first practice with the Habs on Sunday, although Claude Julien wouldn’t commit just then to Kovy being in the lineup. While Winnipeg fans never saw him play for the hometown club, up until a couple of weeks ago he held the record for most points in Jets/Thrashers franchise history.

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Still maintain it would have been cool to see him join the Jets and add to his club records this season, but what are you going to do right? The man said he wanted to play for a contender so of course he signed with a club currently… *checks* sixth in the Atlantic and six points out of a playoff spot?

Our almost daily special teams recap

Jets power play: It good. Over the last ten games it’s 11 for 30 which puts it at a tidy 37%. At one point this season the Jets power play was ranked in the mid-20’s in the league, but it’s currently sits in 12th place – just one spot behind the Canadiens in fact. Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor especially have feasted with the man advantage over the last handful of games and right now it feels like a genuine threat to score each time the opposing team takes a penalty.

Jets penalty kill: It stinks. That said it’s almost a shame that they gave up yet another power play goal against on Saturday because that was during overtime in a 4v3 setting and those are hardly ever fair, not to mention there really shouldn’t have been a penalty, nor should the goal have really counted… But the bottom line is the Jets did give up a goal while down a man and that makes for six straight games and 10 of the last 11 played that they’ve given up at least one power play goal. With the aforementioned return of Andrew Copp though, it could get a much needed boost.

How it could play out…

Much like the game against the Wild, the Habs are going to come into this one a little snarly and probably looking for a hot start so the Jets best be ready to go from opening puck drop. Connor Hellebuyck is going to have to continue to keep up his improved play from Saturday if the Jets have any chance and hope at the same time the guys in front of him can stay out of the box and continue to build upon what was a decent effort on the penalty kill – final OT goal be damned.

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Jets win a tight checking affair 3-2