In the camp of the Winnipeg Jets, who have been on a forced rest since sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in four small games in the first round, there was no doubt Tuesday. Their series against the Montreal Canadiens will be one of goalkeepers.
Posted on 1is June 2021 at 4:23 pm
The Canadian Press
Jets forward Nate Thompson, who played with Carey Price with the Habs from 2018 to 2020, is now part of a team that relies on Connor Hellebuyck, the winner of the Vézina Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s goaltender par excellence, in 2020.
“Both are excellent. I don’t know if I want to compare them… They are two exceptional goalkeepers who have won lots of trophies over the years. It’s hard to compare them. The only thing, in my opinion, is that Price has been outstanding for longer (than Hellebuyck), ”Thompson said on video conference.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice had the same story to say about the goaltenders who will face off in the North Section Finals starting Wednesday night at the Bell MTS Center.
“If you give them the time and the space to see the puck, then they will have no difficulty making the save… So, it will be necessary to sow chaos and confusion around them, to prevent them from seeing the washer. These two guys are awesome, but also have great technique […] And they never lose their temper; they are always in control of their emotions, ”Maurice said of Price and Hellebuyck.
This season, the Jets have won six of nine games against the Canadiens. That does not prevent them from being wary of the Blue-white-red. Thompson said the Jets were not taken aback by the Canadiens’ seven-game victory over the favorites in the North section, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“They (the Canadiens) are a tough team, and since I’ve played for them before, I can tell you that I wasn’t too surprised with what they achieved last night. They rely on Carey Price, and several other resilient players. We felt that the series was going to switch in the fifth game. But we watched both teams, and we tried to prepare for any eventuality, ”said the 36-year-old veteran.
Moreover, Thompson is not the only Jets player to expect a tough series against the Montrealers.
“The Oilers may have been surprised at our tightness on defense, and the way we scored some of their players early in the series,” said Jets forward Adam Lowry. But that won’t be the case in the second round. Each team will offer their best every night, and the best team will continue on their way. ”
The first round was the business of Hellebuyck, star defenseman Josh Morrissey and captain Blake Wheeler. Hellebuyck in particular repelled 151 of the 159 shots directed at him by the Oilers.
“’Bucky’, he’s great. He’s our best player, and obviously we’ll need him, ”said Jets forward Trevor Lewis.
Wheeler, Morrissey, Hellebuyck and the Jets therefore resumed training in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Paul Stastny was absent, which allowed Mathieu Perreault to take his place in a trio completed by Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nokolaj Ehlers.
For his part, Dominic Toninato was paired with Thompson and Lewis. The other lines, as well as the defensive pairs, were identical to those in the last game against the Oilers.
Stastny has presumably undergone treatment, so he should be at his post for Game 1 of the series. It will be the Manitobans’ first game since May 24; a break that could turn out to be a double-edged sword, according to Maurice.
“You know, I think they (the Canadian) gained a lot of pace going for Game 7. So they might come out very hard. For our part, I believe there will be a bit of rust after being idle for such a long time. We will therefore have to make sure that we find our bearings as quickly as possible, to give us the best chances of winning in the first game, ”he summed up.
The Manitoba squad advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2018. The Jets lost in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals.
With contributions from Stephen Whyno, Associated Press