Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets: Five things you should know


The Jets had an easier time in their semifinal and they should be well-rested after sweeping the Oilers in a series that ended on May 24.

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Here are five things you should know about the best-of-seven Canadiens-Jets North Division final series that begins in Winnipeg on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

The matchup: The Canadiens and the Jets posted upsets in the first round of the playoffs. The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate the top-seeded Maple Leafs in seven games. The series ended Monday in Toronto with the Canadiens winning 3-1 behind a 29-save performance by Carey Price. The Jets had an easier time in their semifinal and they should be well-rested after sweeping the favoured Edmonton Oilers in a series that ended on May 24. Montreal had a 3-3-3 record against the Jets during the regular season.

A goaltending duel in the making: Connor Hellebuyck comes into this series with the best numbers in the playoffs, but Price might be the hottest goaltender after three must-win performances against the Leafs. Hellebuyck, who was the Vézina Trophy winner last year, has a 1.60 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage while stopping the high-scoring duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Price faced a similar challenge from Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and had a 2.24 GAA and a .932 save percentage. During the regular season, Hellebuyck had a 6-3 record against Montreal, while Price was 2-1-1 against the Jets.

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The kids are alright: The Canadiens’ young players made significant contributions during the first round. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was a healthy scratch in Game 1, was the team’s leading goal-scorer (three) and won 53.6 per cent of his faceoffs. Nick Suzuki had two goals and two assists and discovered some chemistry with Cole Caufield, who is making a successful transition from U.S. college hockey. Jake Evans, a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, doesn’t have any points in three games, but his tenacious play alongside Phillip Danault on the shutdown line allowed him to push veteran Tomas Tatar out of the lineup.

Top defenceman play big minutes: Dominique Ducharme relied heavily on his top four blue-liners during the first round, prompting their teammates to describe them as horses and warriors. Shea Weber hasn’t played like a 35-year-old and has logged more than 25 minutes a game, including 37 minutes in the overtime win in Game 6. He has taken advantage of some lax officiating to ramp up the physical side of his game. Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot have each averaged more than 24 minutes a game and Joel Edmundson is averaging 21:23. The D-men have not added much offence, with Petry and Erik Gustafsson each contributing an assist.

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The other guys: The Jets have a number of players who can put the puck in the net and their sweep of the Oilers demonstrated their ability to play a 200-foot game. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele led the Jets in the first round with two goals and three assists each, while Kyle Connor had two goals and two assists and Josh Morrissey had a goal and three assists. The Canadiens also have to be aware of Quebec-born Paul Stastny, who has a knack of getting up for games against Montreal, and Pierre-Luc Dubois, a dynamic forward who has been inconsistent since being traded from Columbus.

Prediction: Jets in seven.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

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