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2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 2: Three Storylines Heading into Game 1 of Jets vs. Canadiens

After sweeping the Edmonton Oilers over a week ago, the Winnipeg Jets will finally play their first game since May 24 and will be looking to pick up exactly where they left off in the opening round, as they begin this second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

While regular season metrics can essentially be thrown out at this point, it’s worth noting that Winnipeg won six of the nine meetings against Montreal earlier this season, with three of those victories coming in overtime. Even though this will be the first time these two organizations have ever faced each other in the playoffs, there’s no question this series should be extremely entertaining for both sides, especially since these two teams were considered underdogs in the first round.

Here are three storylines that could impact the first game of this playoff series between the Jets and Canadiens:

1. Will Pierre-Luc Dubois Make His Presence Felt? 

Following a rocky performance in the regular season, the Jets were hopeful forward Pierre-Luc Dubois could replicate some of his impressive results from last season’s playoff bubble, where he scored four goals and 10 points in 10 games, although he could only muster up two assists in the opening round. Despite posting seven hits and three blocks, the 22-year-old was largely ineffective against the Oilers and must find a way to become more productive in this matchup against the Canadiens.

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Considering Dubois excelled against Montreal during the regular season, as he scored two goals and six points through nine games, it seems there’s a fairly strong chance he’ll be able to bounce back offensively in round two. But if his woes continue, then the onus will likely shift to Winnipeg’s third line, featuring Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp and Mason Appleton, needing them to pick up the slack and help generate consistent offense throughout this series.

2. Creating Tons of Havoc For Carey Price 

Despite performing to a disappointing .901 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average in the regular season, goaltender Carey Price has done an excellent job at flushing those troubling metrics and has returned to his dominant form this postseason. Frustrating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner posted a 2.24 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and was clearly the MVP throughout the seven-game series.

Since Price played a massive role in upsetting the Maple Leafs, it’ll be crucial for the Jets to generate plenty of action in the offensive zone and prevent him from taking over this contest, which will undoubtedly be easier said than done. Based on how the Canadiens defended in the first round, where they forced everything to the outside, it’ll likely become extremely difficult to create scoring chances in the slot, meaning this team must position themselves in front of the net and will need a few lucky bounces to fall in their favor.

3. Jets Hoping to Maintain Impressive Defense in Front of Connor Hellebuyck

Unlike in the regular season, Winnipeg has defended extremely well in the playoffs up to this point, which has taken an enormous amount of pressure off goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. While the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner has made some key stops when needed, he wasn’t required to carry this team past Edmonton in the first round, ultimately helping him record a stellar 1.60 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage through those four contests.

Aiming to advance to the third round, the Jets could put themselves in a position to succeed if they’re able to continue defending effectively around Hellebuyck and also limit the number of turnovers allowed in the defensive zone. Building on this game plan, if this team can spend significantly more time in the offensive zone through all three periods Wednesday night, chances are the two-time All-Star could enjoy a fairly quiet performance in Game One.

Lineups:

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

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Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 LW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 C

Nikolaj Ehlers
NIKOLAJ EHLERS

Rating: 75.7#20 RW

Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Logan Stanley
LOGAN STANLEY
Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 RD

Montreal Canadiens: 

LW C RW
Jake Evans
JAKE EVANS
Phillip Danault
PHILLIP DANAULT

Rating: 75.5#29 C

Brendan Gallagher
BRENDAN GALLAGHER

Rating: 78.3#7 RW

Tyler Toffoli
TYLER TOFFOLI

Rating: 75.9#25 LW

Nick Suzuki
NICK SUZUKI
Cole Caufield
COLE CAUFIELD
Paul Byron
PAUL BYRON

Rating: 71.8#78 LW

Jesperi Kotkaniemi
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI
Josh Anderson
JOSH ANDERSON

Rating: 73.4#42 RW

Corey Perry
COREY PERRY

Rating: 70.8#101 LW

Eric Staal
ERIC STAAL

Rating: 74.2#45 C

Joel Armia
JOEL ARMIA

Rating: 73.1#54 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Ben Chiarot
BEN CHIAROT

Rating: 73.8#38 LD

Shea Weber
SHEA WEBER

Rating: 76.5#15 RD

Joel Edmundson
JOEL EDMUNDSON

Rating: 73.8#39 LD

Jeff Petry
JEFF PETRY

Rating: 76.7#13 RD

Brett Kulak
BRETT KULAK

Rating: 73.4#46 LD

Erik Gustafsson
ERIK GUSTAFSSON

Rating: 72.9#43 RD

Where to Watch/Listen:

The puck will drop at 6:30 pm CT and be available on CBC/SN along with 680 CJOB.