Recently, it came to my attention that I hadn’t written about the potential second-round matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens. To be honest, I thought it might have been a waste of my time to write about them, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have blown a 3-1 series lead and could experience another opening-round exit if they lose Game Seven Monday night.
So let’s explore what could transpire if Winnipeg and Montreal face off against each other in round two.

Carey Price vs. Connor Hellebuyck

Assuming the Jets face the Canadiens, there’ll likely be a duel of two of the best goaltenders in the NHL. @Carey Price has posted at least a .900 save percentage in every season he’s played. This regular season, he recorded a .901 save percentage, 2.64 goals-against average and a record of 12-7-25. Since the postseason started, Price is 3-3 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage – so the guy has stepped up when it’s mattered most. Even when looking at his playoff performance from the 2020 playoff bubble, he produced a 1.78 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage, those are some stupid good numbers. The guy clearly wants a Stanley Cup before he retires.
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Am I scared about the Jets taking on Price? Not a chance! Winnipeg has @Connor Hellebuyck, that guy helped sweep @Connor McDavid and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers. Hellebuyck created a .916 save percentage during the regular season, which is only .006 points lower than last year’s Vezna Trophy-winning campaign. Hellebuyck also performed to a 24-17-3 record this season and a 2.58 goals-against average. The 28-year-old has played pretty consistently when the pressure has been on him. I think going into this round, there won’t be much pressure on him or the Jets. None of the experts picked the Jets to defeat the Oilers, so “Helle” solely focused on playing his game. Where the Canadiens have the pressure of the fans, who just re-entered the Bell Centre and have a fairly new head coach in Dominique Ducharme, and a general manager in Marc Bergevin who’s on the hot seat.
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Since there isn’t much pressure on Paul Maurice or Kevin Cheveldayoff to advance much further than the second round, it should help Hellebuyck breathe easy at night. So overall, I think I have to give the goaltending duel to our man, Hellebuyck. He can play a little looser, has proven he can stop some of the best forwards in the game and has had some time to rest.

The Defenders

The Canadiens have an amazing defensive core, they have five successful defensmen. The captain, @Shea Weber, is an intense man who doesn’t say much but is a force to be reckoned with. He can dummy guys with his hits and has an absolute rocket of a shot, which spooks me. @Josh Morrissey has a fine shot and can layout hits too, but you can’t deny how good Weber is in comparison. I will say, Montreal’s defenders are much more complete but they can collapse pretty easily.
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On Saturday night against the Maple Leafs, they held the Canadiens to only six shots on goal in the second period. During the third period and in overtime, Toronto had 28 shots on goal and 10 high-danger scoring chances. So the Canadiens’ defensemen can collapse when they think they’re going to win and that’s just one example. Montreal’s defence is miles ahead of Winnipeg’s in terms of skill and experience. So I think I have to give the Canadiens the victory in that category. The Jets lived rent-free in the series against the Oilers, let’s hope they can do it again in round two.

The Forwards Matchup

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This is will be an interesting matchup. The Canadiens’ forwards are well balanced and they have veterans like Eric Staal and Corey Perry who play with heart. They also have young guys like Cole Caufield, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki, who are on a mission to show they’re ready to run the NHL. Finally, they have middle-of-the-road players like Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli, who want to show they deserve to be in the league and should be competing for a Stanley Cup. They can be a dangerous bunch of players, who won’t score six or seven goals against you, but they have an attiude where they can burn you when you’re least expecting it. They did just that during both of their overtime victories against the Maple Leafs, they were being outplayed but still found the spot to score.
Shooting on the net is important, but scoring goals is all that matters in the NHL. I think the Jets have the size to push the Canadiens around, but I dont know if they have the ability to match Perry’s tendencies or handle themselves after scrums. Winnipeg didn’t see a lot of that with the Oilers so that mental aspect could hinder them. Overall, I think the Jets have a tiny advantage over the Canadiens with the help of @Nikolaj Ehlers and potentially @Pierre-Luc Dubois.
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Montreal’s Secret weapon

The Bell Centre has opened up to 2,500 fans, which isn’t much but you could hear them giving it their all on Saturday night. Without a whiteout here in Winnipeg, it might give Montreal a boost that could give them the edge in the series. Fans have been known to make or break a club.

Final Thoughts

I think round two will be very fun to watch. I think it’s going extend to seven games, this series could turn into a blood bath. Let me know what you think, you can hit me up in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Instagram – @angushout.