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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Jets game at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg on Thursday (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM):
The matchup: This will be Dominique Ducharme’s first game behind the bench as the Canadiens’ head coach and he takes over a team that has lost five of its last six games, although Montreal did salvage a couple of points in overtime and shootout losses to the last-place Ottawa Senators this week. This will be the first meeting this season between the Canadiens and the Jets, who hold the No. 3 spot in the Canadian division with 23 points, one point ahead of Montreal.
Do we have a goaltender controversy? It will be interesting to see who gets the start in goal for the Canadiens. Carey Price and his US$10.5-million cap hit started the season as No. 1, but Jake Allen, who was brought in to ease Price’s workload, has been a better netminder. Price made several spectacular saves in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Ottawa, but also let in a softie from Brady Tkachuk that tied the game and he let in two goals on three shots in the shootout. He has a 5-3-3 record and has some of the worst numbers of his career — a 2.95 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage.
Reunion time for Drouin: Ducharme and Jonathan Drouin have some history and it will be interesting to see what effect the coaching change has on Drouin’s performance and whether Ducharme can persuade him to shoot more. Drouin played for Ducharme as a junior with the Halifax Mooseheads and they were together for a Memorial Cup win in 2013, although the star of that team was Nathan MacKinnon, who is starring for the Colorado Avalanche. Drouin had a good start with a goal and 10 assists in 13 games, but he went four games without a point before scoring his second goal of the season on Tuesday.
Some bright spots: Newcomer Tyler Toffoli is living up to his reputation as a sniper and he scored his team-leading 12th goal on Tuesday. Auston Matthews (18) and Connor McDavid (13) are the only players who have scored more goals this season. And Shea Weber used his booming shot to score twice, but it would have been nice if he had been able to score on the power play. The Canadiens went 0-for-3 Tuesday and are 0-for-10 in their last six games. Montreal has one power-play goal in its last 22 opportunities.
The other guys: Mark Scheifele leads the Jets’ offence with 10 goals and 26 points. Nikolaj Ehlers, who played for Ducharme in Halifax, also has 10 goals along with 19 points, while Blake Wheeler has 17 points, including five goals. The Jets pulled off a blockbuster trade when they sent Patrik Laine to Columbus for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Quarantine and a minor injury hampered Dubois’ integration into his new team, but he has two goals — including the overtime winner against Vancouver Sunday — and an assist in three games. The goaltending is in capable hands with Connor Hellebuyck, who won the Vézina Trophy last season.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021