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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Jets game at Bell Centre on Thursday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM):
The matchup: The Canadiens kicked off a three-game homestand Tuesday when they snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, while the Jets are coming off a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. This is the third meeting between these teams and the Jets won the first two in Winnipeg. The Jets were 6-3 winners last Thursday to spoil Dominique Ducharme’s debut as the interim head coach. It was a little tighter two nights later, when Montreal took Winnipeg to overtime before losing 2-1 on a goal by Paul Stastny. Winnipeg leads fourth-place Montreal by four points in the North Division standings, but Montreal has a game in hand.
Chance for redemption: When Carey Price faced the Jets last Thursday, he gave up five goals on 29 shots and he’ll be looking for a measure of redemption in this game. Price was a surprise starter Tuesday and he limited the Senators to one goal with some help from his teammates, who killed off three penalties. Price’s play has been inconsistent this season and general manager Marc Bergevin made goaltending coach Stéphane Waite the scapegoat for Price’s problems when he fired the veteran assistant after the second period of the Ottawa game.
Petry making Norris third: With one-third of the season completed, Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry is meriting strong consideration for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the outstanding defenceman in the NHL. Petry played a role in both Canadiens goals Tuesday, collecting a goal and an assist. The goal was his seventh, which is tops among NHL defenceman, and his 20 points rank second among blue-liners to Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes, who has 22. Petry has a plus-11 rating, which is tied for ninth in the league. The NHL leader is Petry’s defence partner, Joel Edmondson, at plus-18.
Who’s coaching the faceoffs? Head coach Claude Julien walked the plank because the Canadiens weren’t getting the job done on the ice. Associate coach Kirk Muller was fired because the power play sucked. And Waite was fired because Price allowed too many soft goals. So when does Bergevin fire whoever is responsible for coaching faceoffs? The Canadiens continue to drop in the NHL rankings and sit 28th with a success rate of 46.6 per cent. Phil Danault is at 51.3 per cent and Jake Evans is at 50, but youngsters Jesperi Kotkaniemi (45.2 per cent) and Nick Suzuki (42.3 per cent) have to be much better.
The other guys: Winnipeg has a well-balanced attack led by Mark Scheifele, who has 31 points, including 11 goals. He’s tied for fifth in the NHL scoring race with Toronto’s Auston Matthews. Nikolaj Elhers, who played under Dominique Ducharme with the Halifax Mooseheads, and Kyle Connor have also scored 11 goals. Ehlers, Connors and Wheeler each collected three points in the two games against Montreal last week. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, last season’s winner of the Vézina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender, was the winner in both games and was outstanding in Friday’s 2-1 overtime win as he made 40 saves.
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