Canadiens @ Jets: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

Montreal Canadiens @ Winnipeg Jets

How to watch

Start time: 8:00 PM EDT / 5:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Jets region: TSN3 (English)

Before the Montreal Canadiens departed for Buffalo, a .500 points percentage on their pending road trip would have largely been considered a success. Now, as they fly into Winnipeg to conclude their voyage with two wins under their belt, that .500 mark is their worst-case scenario. Standing between the Habs and a road trip winning record is a familiar opponent.

Tale of the Tape

44.1% (27th)Scoring-chances-for %47.5 (21st)
2.80 (25th)Goals per game2.89 (24th)
3.10 (14th)Goals against per game2.78 (10th)
13.8% (26th)PP%13.3% (27th)
80.7% (13th)PK%79.2% (18th)
0-2-0H2H Record (’21-’22)2-0-0

The Winnipeg Jets hit a high point in 2018 when they reached the Western Conference Final, but they have struggled to match that achievement since. Repeated playoff futility — including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Canadiens in 2021 — eventually progressed into missing the post-season last year.

The organization looked for answers during the off-season, and settled upon a dramatic shakeup of the leadership core. Blake Wheeler was stripped of the captaincy, with new head coach Rick Bowness eventually removing the ex-captain from the formal leadership corps altogether when he opted for a trio of alternate captains (Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey, and Adam Lowry) instead. Further complicating the start of the season, Bowness himself has been sidelined with COVID-19 for eight of the team’s nine games thus far, although he is slated to take back the helm from Scott Arniel in time for the Habs game.

Despite all of this, the Jets find themselves a respectable second in a very tight Central Division. A recent four-game point streak (three wins, one loss) has helped matters, with solid wins over the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings preceding two overtime affairs: a win against the Arizona Coyotes and a defeat at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights.

In a parallel to their leadership structure, scoring has largely been done by committee. Morrissey is the surprise leader with eight points, followed by Wheeler with seven. After that, Scheifele, Lowry, Neal Pionk, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cole Perfetti all have six.

However, the Jets are by no means content with their standings success. Coaches and players have intonated a need to deal with consistency issues and “be better.” Indeed, Winnipeg has been plagued by slow starts throughout the young season. They were down 1-3 to the Kings before winning 6-4, they were down 0-2 to the lowly Coyotes before salvaging an overtime victory, and although they entered the first intermission against the Knights at 0-0, that was only because of the work of Connor Hellebuyck. The Knights racked up a remarkable 2.94 expected goals in that period, a number that exceeds the current xGF per game of 13 NHL teams — including the Jets.

Speaking of Hellebuyck, the perennial Vezina candidate has seemingly regained his form after a down year (by his lofty standards) last season. Through seven starts, the Michigan native has a .931 save percentage, a number that jumps to .957 at home. Given that backup David Rittich suited up against the Coyotes only two games prior, the Habs will not be able to dodge the considerable obstacle that Hellebucyk represents.

One way to overcome Hellebuyck will be consistent offensive generation up and down the lineup, a strategy used to good effect by Montreal back in 2021. Christian Dvorak’s hat-trick in St. Louis certainly helped matters, but the fact remains that Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki have the same number of goals (four) on this road trip as the rest of the team outside of Dvorak.

Although Evgenii Dadonov is unlikely to play, Martin St-Louis still has decisions to make between Michael Pezzetta, Mike Hoffman, Rem Pitlick, Jonathan Drouin, and possibly Juraj Slafkovský. In more positive news, Joel Edmundson, who wore a contact jersey for practice in Minnesota, may make his season debut, which will be welcome news for Samuel Montembeault. The backup will be looking to build on a 43-save performance against the Buffalo Sabres.

Throughout this season, the Canadiens have been very good at avoiding worst-case outcomes. Let’s see if they can manage the feat again before heading home for a Saturday night tilt against the Golden Knights.

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