Sports Jets at Canadiens: Five things you should know
Canadiens Notebook: Marc Bergevin says Eric Staal trade happened fast
When Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin spoke with the media on a video conference Thursday he talked about how he was up tight against the NHL salary cap and didn’t expect to make any moves before the April 12 trade deadline. The next day, Bergevin acquired veteran centre Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft. “When I talked to you guys on Thursday I was being up-front and honest,” Bergevin said during another video conference Saturday. “But, again, I don’t think it’s the best interest of the Montreal Canadiens to sit in front of the camera and lay out everything I’m trying to do.
Here are five things you should know about the Jets-Canadiens game Thursday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio-690, 98.5 FM).
The matchup: This is the third of four games this week for the Canadiens, who are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs Wednesday night in Toronto. It’s also the first of two contests against Winnipeg within 72 hours; the teams are meeting in Montreal again Saturday night. The Jets have been idle since Monday, when they defeated Ottawa 4-3 at home, following two home-ice losses against the Leafs — one in a shootout. This is the seventh of nine meetings between the Canadiens and Jets. The remaining three games are all in Montreal. While Winnipeg has won four of the six, three were decided in overtime.
Stu Cowan: Math works in Canadiens' favour down the stretch
Are you ready for some hockey — lots of hockey? Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Senators in Ottawa, the Canadiens had 24 games left in this condensed 56-game NHL season. Those 24 games will be played over 41 days. Starting next week, the Canadiens will play four games a week for five straight weeks before wrapping up the regular season with back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers on May 10 and 11 at the Bell Centre. There’s Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Senators in Ottawa, the Canadiens had 24 games left in this condensed 56-game NHL season. Those 24 games will be played over 41 days.
What’s happened to the power play? Whenreplaced fired assistant coach Kirk Muller and was put in charge of the power play, it began paying immediate dividends for the Canadiens. But that was then and this is now. Over its last five games, Montreal is one-for-16 with the man advantage. The Canadiens failed to capitalize on two opportunities against Toronto. Indeed, Montreal didn’t generate a shot. “Sometimes you have to give credit to them,” Corey Perry said following Wednesday’s game. “They won some faceoffs. They had good sticks tonight. They beat us tonight.”
About that coaching change: It’s no longer about wins in the NHL. Rather, with teams getting a point even when they lose in overtime or a shootout, it’s all about how many points a team can generate. The Canadiens have points in 13 of 18 games since Dominique Ducharme replaced the. But the two coaches’ records are strikingly similar. Montreal’s now 8-5-5 under Ducharme. The Canadiens were 9-5-4 under Julien. There’s a caveat: the Canadiens won seven of their first 10 games to start the season before beginning a tailspin that ultimately cost Julien his job.
Canadiens Game Day: Eric Staal will make his Habs debut vs. Oilers
Eric Staal will make his Canadiens debut Monday night at the Bell Centre and Carey Price will be in goal against the Edmonton Oilers (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens acquired Staal from the Buffalo Sabres on March 26 in exchange for a third-round pick a fifth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft. Staal completed seven days of COVID-19 quarantine on Saturday and skated by himself Sunday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard while the rest of the Canadiens enjoyed a day off. Staal joined his new teammates for Monday’s morning skate in Brossard and was at centre on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Toffoli.
The other guys: Winnipeg captainwon’t play Thursday and is out indefinitely with a suspected concussion. The 34-year-old has 10 goals and 32 points in 39 games. In the 10 seasons since the Jets relocated to Winnipeg, the right-winger has missed only six games. Wheeler took an elbow from Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk on Monday, but continued playing and said he felt fine before developing symptoms the following day. Wheeler has played all but one of the last 438 games for Winnipeg.
This and that: This is the start of a five-game road trip for the Jets. The journey continues in Ottawa next Monday and Wednesday before concluding with a game at Toronto, April 15. … The Jets (23-13-3) are third in the all-Canadian North Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers, but six ahead of the Canadiens. Winnipeg’s 5-4-1 in its last 10 games. … Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 22-year-old centre the Jets acquired in a January trade from Columbus, has eight goals and 16 points through 24 games with his new team. While Dubois was the Blue Jackets’ marquee player, the Jets have more of a well-rounded team, which has alleviated much of the pressure from him. He scored twice against the Senators on Monday. … If Canadiens goalie Jake Allen gets his second start in as many nights for the, he claimed that won’t cause a problem. “I’ve done it lots of times … played three games in 2 1/2 days,” he said Wednesday night. “It’s a challenge, no question.”
In the Habs' Room: With team mired in a slump, will GM act before trade deadline?
The last time the Canadiens went into a slide, head coach Claude Julien was fired. It’s unlikely the club will jettison two coaches in the same season, so Dominique Ducharme can rest easy for now. But with the NHL’s trade deadline coming Monday afternoon at 3 p.m., it wouldn’t be shocking to see general manager Marc Bergevin make a move, if only to shake his team out of its doldrums. Then again, Bergevin repeatedly has stated how much he likes the club he assembled. “We like our team,” Ducharme reiterated Saturday night. “It happens that you lose three games in a row. How are you going to react and get back to your own way? That’s what we’re focusing on.
Canadiens Game Day: Jon Merrill will make his Habs debut vs. Oilers .
Defenceman Jon Merrill will make his Canadiens debut Wednesday night against the Oilers in Edmonton (10 p.m., TSN2, SNW, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens acquired Merrill from the Detroit Red Wings on April 11 in exchange for minor-league forward Hayden Verbeek and a fifth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft. In 36 games with the Red Wings, Merrill had 0-5-5 totals and was plus-2 while averaging 19:41 of ice time. Merrill will play The Canadiens acquired Merrill from the Detroit Red Wings on April 11 in exchange for minor-league forward Hayden Verbeek and a fifth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft. In 36 games with the Red Wings, Merrill had 0-5-5 totals and was plus-2 while averaging 19:41 of ice time.