After a heartbreaking loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Canadiens (23-8-5) are back home Thursday night to host the Jets (18-18-2) leaders of the Southeast division. The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and TSN-HABS.
This is the second of three meetings between the Habs and Jets, the last match will take place in Winnipeg one game before the Habs wrap up their season against the Leafs. The Canadiens already beat the Jets 4-3 on home ice earlier in the year in a game that saw the Habs jump out to a 2-0 lead early before giving up 3 straight goals. Tomas Plekanec eventually sealed the victory for Montreal with a power play goal just over 5 minutes into the third.
What to Watch:
With the Habs playing back-to-back games, Peter Budaj will get his seventh start of the season. Budaj has done everything Canadiens fans could have asked for this season, he boasts a 5-1-1 record including his most recent win against the Bruins, coming on in the third period in relief of Carey Price and then stopping 6 Bruins during the shootout. Budaj may be facing one of his toughest challenges this season though as the Canadiens could be dealing with some serious injuries heading into Thursday’s game.
While the Jets may be leading the Southeast division at the moment, they won’t hold onto that lead much longer if their recent play keeps up. Winnipeg has lost 4 straight and 7 of their last 10. This is a team that should be playing with a fair bit of desperation as the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes have started closing in on the Jets and a playoff berth is now in serious doubt.
What’s at Stake:
The Canadiens wasted a golden opportunity to make up some ground on the Penguins last night, failing to capitalize on Pittsburgh’s 6-1 loss to the Rangers and their own 3-2 third period lead over the Flyers. The Habs will look to bounce back with a win over the Jets and improve on their perfect 10-0-0 record against Southeast division teams.
Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty both suffered what Habs fans hope are minor injuries in Wednesday’s game against the Flyers. Plekanec suffered a groin pull while Patches hurt his ankle, it’s unclear whether either will play Thursday. Rafael Diaz and Rene Bourque are still recovering from concussions and Ryan White (lower body) is out as well.
The Jets are without Nik Antropov (lower body), Grant Clitsome (eye), Jim Slater (upper body), Anthony Peluso (hand) and James Wright, who is out with an undisclosed injury.
The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Canadiens and Jets both decided to show restraint this year. Neither team made any trades on deadline day, the Jets claimed Florida’s Mike Santorelli off waivers on Wednesday and the Habs grabbed Davis Drewiske off the Kings a day before. Both these teams are focused more on the future so the lack of movement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The Question Mark:
With the trade deadline passed, do you think Marc Bergevin made the right move for the Habs by playing it safe and not going after any big rentals this year?
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or on Twitter using the #MTLHockey hashtag.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.