5 things to watch as Jets take on Montreal

There are rivalries in the NHL and then there are teams that just seem to have another team’s number. Montreal versus Winnipeg is a perfect example of the latter.

Jets prepare for home match against Canadiens

10 years ago
Duration 1:35
Members of the Winnipeg Jets practise at the MTS Centre in advance of the team's match against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Winnipeg Jets got things back on track, defeating a winless New Jersey Devils team, 3-0, Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.

But they’ll have their hands full Tuesday night as they welcome the Montreal Canadiens (3-2-0) to the MTS Centre in their first meeting of the year.

Here are fives to watch for heading in to tonight’s game:

“Les Miserables”

There are rivalries in the NHL and then there are teams that just seem to have another team’s number. Montreal versus Winnipeg is a perfect example of the latter.

To say the Jets haven’t had much luck against the Canadiens would be an understatement.

Montreal spoiled the party in the Jets first game in Winnipeg after a 15-year hiatus from the NHL, beating them 5-1 on Oct. 9, 2011, in front of a sold out crowd at the MTS Centre.

Since then, the Jets have lost six of seven to the Habs, being outscored 27-14 during that span of two seasons. The Jets will look to snap that streak Tuesday night in their first of only two meetings this season.

Testing the PK

One of the bright spots for the Jets this season has been their success on the penalty kill. The Jets have killed off 24-of-30 penalties (80 per cent) in six games, good enough for 15th best in the league.

In Sunday’s game against New Jersey, the Jets went a perfect 5-for-5, marking the third game this year the Jets were perfect with a man down.

The Montreal Canadiens, who rank 7th in the NHL on the powerplay, might be the Jets biggest challenge yet. They’ve been particularly good on the road this year.

In three games away from the Bell Centre, the Habs are clicking at 50 per cent, scoring four goals on eight trips to the power play. They share the most power play goals on the road with Toronto, Washington and New York Rangers but have done so in fewer chances.

The Jets have allowed four power play goals to opposing teams this year.

The other P.K.

Speaking of PK, P.K. Subban, Canadiens defenceman and the 2013 Norris Trophy winner – awarded to the top blue-liner in the league – has had major success against the Jets so far in his young career.

In two games last season – he was absent in their first meeting of the year due to a contract holdout – the 24-year-old native of Toronto racked up four points, and was a plus-2.

He quarterbacks the special teams and is tasked to shut down opposing team’s top lines. Simply put, he’s a threat in all areas of the ice.

Olympic hopeful

Jets fans get their first look Tuesday night at one of Canada’s projected goalies for the 2014 Winter Olympics Games in Sochi.

Montreal keeper, Carey Price, is an early favourite to land a spot in net for Canada, pending a disastrous first half to the NHL season.

Price, 26, is 2-2-0 to start the season, losing games to Toronto and Calgary during that stretch. He’s allowed nine goals to opposing teams, calculating to a 2.27 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage.

Scouts will be continuing to look at Price leading up to Sochi and every game will be thoroughly dissected. A bad game against a middle-of-the-pack team like Winnipeg could severely hurt his chances. One thing’s for sure, it certainly won’t help.

Pav's return

Jets' backup goalie Al Montoya stepped in Sunday night to give starter, Ondrej Pavelec, a night off. Now, with their No.1 guy well rested and back between the pipes, the Jets feel confident they’ll get a strong showing from the 26-year-old Czech.

Not so fast. The stats show otherwise.

Since playing in Winnipeg, Pavelec has taken a total of 12 games off. In those games following a night off, he’s won four, and lost eight, with two of those coming in overtime or shootout.

In two of those occasions, Pavelec would eventually be chased from the net, allowing a total of 14 goals in two games.

Pavelec is one of the most competitive players in the Jets locker room. If it were up to him he would play every game.

He’ll do everything in his power to be sharp come game time, just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go his way. A formidable Montreal team does not allow much room for error.

Prediction: 4-2 Montreal

The stats really speak for themselves.

The Jets haven’t had much luck against Montreal and there’s no reason to think that will change Tuesday night.

After a moderate upgrade in scoring last game, the jury is still out as to whether the Jets new line will garner any more success in the future.

Montreal wins this one and Jets find themselves below .500 once again this season.


Jeff Hamilton

Winnipeg Jets

Jeff Hamilton is an award-winning journalist born and raised in Winnipeg. Jeff is a graduate of the Carleton University journalism program and has worked for CBC in Ottawa and Manitoba. This will be his second year covering his hometown team. Jeff is passionate about hockey, playing and has studied the game his entire life.