The First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs concluded on Monday, May 31st with the Montreal Canadiens completing the comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs to advance. The Canadiens found themselves down 3-1 in the series, however, won three straight against their bitter rivals to upset the top-seeded Leafs in Game 7. Now, the Canadiens are set to face a rested Winnipeg Jets team. A team who pulled off an upset of their own, sweeping the second-seeded Edmonton Oilers. The Second Round is already underway for most teams. However, the Montreal Canadiens vs Winnipeg Jets series will get underway on Wednesday, June 2nd. It’s a series that may not have the flair but certainly promises to be a hard-fought war.
Montreal Canadiens vs Winnipeg Jets Series Preview
Jets High Powered Offence
The Jets offence, led by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler will be tough to stop for the Canadiens. The Jets scored 14 goals in just four games in the first round. The same amount the Canadiens scored in seven. Scheifele and Wheeler led the team with five points each in four games. While 16 of the 20 players who played in the series managed to register at least one point. The Jets also welcomed back Nikolaj Ehlers in Game 3 of their First Round matchup against the Oilers and he picked up right where he left off scoring two goals in two games. While the matchup gets tougher for the Jets facing Carey Price, the Canadiens will still need to find a way to keep the Jets offence at bay if they have any chance of winning this series.
While the Jets have solid depth, it’s an area of strength for the Canadiens as well. The Habs got scoring from all four lines during their First Round matchup with the Leafs. Tyler Toffoli continues to be a leader for the Canadiens, scoring five points in seven games. However, it was the youth of the Canadiens that were really impressive during their first-round matchup, with Nick Suzuki scoring four points as well as the game-winner in Game 4 and Jesperi Kotkaniemi leading the Canadiens in goals with three during the series and scoring the overtime winner in Game 6 to force a deciding Game 7. Cole Caufield entered the series in Game 3 and despite only registering one assist in the series, he drove the play for the Canadiens and also intercepted an Alex Galchenyuk pass that sprung him and Suzuki on a 2-on-0 before setting up Suzuki for the overtime winner in Game 5.
The Canadiens have a solid mix of youth and veterans such as Corey Perry and Eric Staal who are Stanley Cup winners and know what it takes to get the job done. Proven by each of them scoring four points and Corey Perry getting credited for the series winner against the Leafs. While they might not have the potent scoring that the Jets have, they have the will and are an extremely tough group to play against.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of this series will be the matchup between Carey Price and Connor Hellebuyck. Both goalies played phenomenal in the first round, carrying their teams to victory. Connor Hellebuyck has yet to lose in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, holding off the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to sweep the Oilers. Hellebuyck is currently leading the playoffs with a 1.60 goals-against-average as well as a .950 save percentage. He also posted a shutout in Game 2 of the series. Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner has been lights out to start the playoffs and will be tough to beat.
Not to be outdone, Price is showing why he is continuously voted as the best goaltender in the NHL by his peers. Price shut down the high-powered Leafs offence lead by Auston Matthews to defeat the heavily favourited Maple Leafs. Matthews, who led the league with 41 goals this season, was only able to get one past Price. Price made countless key saves in the series, posting a 2.24 goals-against-average and a .932 save percentage. He gives his team a chance to win every game and will be a key factor in this series for the Canadiens.
With two of the best goaltenders facing off against each other, don’t expect this series to be a high-scoring affair. Both teams match up well against one another, having solid depth up front as well as outstanding goaltending. The Scheifele line will be tough to stop. However, the Phillip Danault line will certainly give them their fits, after just holding the league’s top scorer to one goal. The Jets won the season series 6-3 against the Canadiens, however, you can throw all of that out the window. Regular season stats mean nothing in the post-season. While the Montreal Canadiens vs Winnipeg Jets series may not be the most exciting in terms of goal scoring, it promises to be a hard-fought war. One that we predict, the Canadiens will come out of victorious.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-2