NHL Playoffs Prediction: Winnipeg Jets versus Montreal Canadiens
The Winnipeg Jets versus the Montreal Canadiens are set for round two of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 1 is tonight in Winnipeg and will start at 7:30 PM ET.
Before I get into my second round preview and predictions, here’s where I stand with my first round predictions. After the Maple Leafs latest playoff debacle against the Canadiens, I am 3-5. The only one I hit on perfectly was the Golden Knights in seven over the Minnesota Wild.
Let’s dive in to this round two matchup.
North Division Round Two Preview
#3 Winnipeg Jets vs #4 Montreal Canadiens
During the regular season, these two teams struggled down the stretch, but here they are getting past teams everyone thought would be here. The Jets surprisingly swept the Oilers, while the Habs stunned the Leafs in seven. I’d say that whomever wins this series shouldn’t shock a soul. The Jets got the better of Montreal going 6-3 in head-to-head matchups, with 3 wins coming from extra session play. Winnipeg also outscored them 31-28.
Offensively, the Jets are the better team. They have more offensive weapons and scored 3.04 goals per game during the regular season to the Canadiens 2.82. In the playoffs, the Jets are at 3.50 goals per game and the Habs are meandering at 2.00. Tyler Toffoli was Montreal’s best skater with 5 points in 7 games, while Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler had 5 points each for Winnipeg in 4 contests.
On the defensive side of the puck, Connor Hellebuyck put on a show against Edmonton. He leads all playoff goalies with a .950 SV%. The Jets have given up just 2 goals per game. At the other end, Carey Price is no slouch with a .932 SV% as the Habs have only given up 2.57 goals per game in the postseason.
This is going to be a fun one.
“That anticipation is coming. I think you can already feel it. And I think there’s confidence that we’ll be able to get to that emotional level. The longer that your break is, the more anticipation — I don’t think anxiety — but we’re close to needing a game here soon. Calm but ready.”Jets head coach Paul Maurice, NHL.com
North Division Round Two Prediction
Offense: Edge Jets
The Jets had two players in the top 25 in scoring with Mark Scheifele at number 9, two points shy of Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. Kyle Connor was 25th thanks to his 26 goals and 50 points. Two more Jets players show up on the stat sheet before you get to Tyler Toffoli and his 44 points at 48th overall.
Those other two Jets are Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler. Also, let’s not forget Pierre-Luc Dubois can score with the best of them too.
Defense: Edge Jets
Montreal’s Jeff Petry is the best defenseman for my money in this series, but he was abysmal against the Leafs with a plus/minus rating of -4 with just one assist. However, as an overall unit they did play Toronto pretty tough when it mattered. They also have Carey Price to bail out their many mistakes.
Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey looked really good against the Oilers top offensive players, as did Neal Pionk. Compared to other defenses in the league, there aren’t many household names here. As a unit of six they are much better than the Habs, so the advantage is theirs.
I pointed out Connor Hellebuyck’s numbers. He’s the best backstop in the playoffs, and leads in SV% and is tied for first in GAA (1.61) amongst all goalies with a minimum of 4 games. Hellebuyck is still giving Connor McDavid nightmares. That alone should be enough to give Winnipeg the edge here, but I just don’t want to bet against Carey Price. So for my own sanity – this is even.
Final Prediction: Jets in 6 games