No. 4 Canadiens at No. 3 Jets
7:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS
Montreal leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
The Winnipeg Jets will be without center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Dylan DeMelo when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Bell MTS Place on Friday.
Scheifele will serve the first game of a four-game suspension issued by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday. Scheifele was disciplined for a check on Montreal’s Jake Evans at 19:03 of the third period in Game 1, won 5-3 by the Canadiens.
DeMelo sustained an undisclosed injury on his first shift in Game 1 and could be out at least a week, Jets coach Paul Maurice said. Defenseman Jordie Benn is likely to take DeMelo’s place.
Paul Stastny, who missed Game 1 with an undisclosed injury, will be a game-time decision, Maurice said. The center was on the ice for the morning skate Friday.
“Whether Paul Stastny’s in the lineup or not, we’re going to put four really good centermen on the ice and they’re key pieces to our lineup,” Maurice said. “So we’ve been fortunate that we’ve added depth down the middle and it’s certainly going to get tested when you have one or two really important guys out of your lineup. We weren’t great in a lot of areas [in Game 1] so I expect we’re going to play a whole heck of a lot better here tonight.”
Evans has a concussion and will miss Game 2 for the Canadiens. Forward Artturi Lehkonen will take his place in the lineup.
Teams that take a 2-0 lead on the road are 82-20 (80.4 percent) winning a best-of-7 playoff series, including 2-0 this season.
Here are 3 keys for Game 2:
1. Adjusting lines
Each team needs cohesion with an on-the-fly adjustment to its lines because of Scheifele’s suspension and Evans’ injury.
Lehkonen will return after missing the final four games of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Game 1 of the second round due to an upper-body injury.
He is likely to play on a line with Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher and see plenty of time against Winnipeg’s top line, so there’s not a large margin for Lehkonen to get back up to speed.
If Stastny returns for Game 2, he could center Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler. Stastny has played with each before among Winnipeg’s top six forwards, so he will have familiarity. But adjustment time, by necessity, is small.
2. Spreading out time
Each coach found himself in a precarious spot with the use of defensemen in Game 1 and will try to balance things better for Game 2 so as not to excessively tax key players.
When DeMelo was injured, Winnipeg was forced to play with five defensemen for the rest of the game, which elevated ice time considerably for Neal Pionk and Tucker Poolman. Pionk played a Jets-high 29:18 after averaging 21:58 during the regular season and Poolman played 22:50 after averaging 18:18 prior to the playoffs.
Trying to protect its lead in Game 1, Montreal cut back time for Erik Gustafsson to 6:41 and Brett Kulak to 9:54. Gustafsson didn’t play a shift in the third period but coach Dominique Ducharme said he will play in Game 2.
The Game 1 circumstances sent ice time much higher for Ben Chiarot (26:38 after averaging 21:47 in the regular season), Jeff Petry (25:49 from 22:44) and Joel Edmundson (24:44 from 20:03.
3. Clear focus for Montreal
The Canadiens were angry after Scheifele’s hit on Evans in Game 1 but said they have moved on. They must follow through on that with a focus on their system and structure, to play together and attack when presented opportunities.
As Game 1 progressed, Winnipeg found more ways to put on pressure in the offensive zone after a slow start. Montreal will want to stem that tide and offer the Jets as few holes to exploit as possible.
“Over the course of a series, you have to build a rhythm,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “We did that against Toronto starting with Game 5, so our objective for tonight is to be better than we were in the first game. We did a lot of good things. There are some better decisions we could have made and that’s what we’re concentrating on.”
Canadiens projected lineup
Artturi Lehkonen — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Paul Byron — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak — Erik Gustafsson
Injured: Jake Evans (concussion)
Jets projected lineup
Kyle Connor — Paul Stastny — Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers — Pierre-Luc Dubois — Andrew Copp
Mathieu Perreault — Adam Lowry — Mason Appleton
Dominic Toninato — Nate Thompson — Trevor Lewis
Josh Morrissey — Jordie Benn
Neal Pionk — Derek Forbort
Logan Stanley — Tucker Poolman
Scratched: Ville Heinola, Sami Niku, Kristian Vesalainen, Jansen Harkins, Eric Comrie, Mikhail Berdin, David Gustafsson, Cole Kehler, Joona Luoto, Dylan Samberg, Marko Dano, Nelson Nogier, C.J. Suess
Injured: Nathan Beaulieu (hand), Dylan DeMelo (lower body)
Suspended: Mark Scheifele
The Jets held an optional morning skate Friday. … DeMelo sustained a soft tissue injury in Game 1, Maurice said.