WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets said they can make the necessary changes to be more competitive in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The Jets were defeated 5-3 in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series after the Canadiens took a 3-1 lead in the first period. Montreal traveled to Winnipeg on Tuesday and played two days after winning Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs to complete a comeback from down 3-1 in the first round.
Winnipeg last played May 24 when it finished a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think right now we just had a meeting to go over our game and areas we think we can improve on, things we can do better,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said Thursday. “I think we’ve got enough experience in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] now that, whether it’s a big win or a loss, you have to turn the page and refocus.
“The playoffs are a bit of a chess match. You have to make adjustments as you go. Like I said, we had a good meeting. We’re trying to refocus and prepare for tomorrow night.”
One of the Jets’ most important adjustments this season was to a more responsible, tighter-checking playoff style. It was a painful transition that took place during their seven-game losing streak April 17 to May 3. Once implemented, they won three of their final five regular-season games while allowing nine goals and four tight games against the Oilers, three that went to overtime.
Winnipeg also began the playoffs with injuries. Forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois (undisclosed) and Nikolaj Ehlers (upper body) each missed a 4-1 win against Edmonton in Game 1. Dubois returned for Game 2 and Ehlers for Game 3, when he scored the winning goal in overtime.
Injuries are again part of the storyline in the second round
Center Paul Stastny missed Game 1 against the Canadiens with an undisclosed injury and is day to day. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo did not return after his first shift Wednesday and his status for Game 2 is unknown.
“I think we’re way better equipped now to handle such an injury,” forward Andrew Copp said. “So guys will have to step up … if that’s the case. We’ve got to find a way to win the next game. I think that’s all we’re worried about right now.”
The Jets could also be without center Mark Scheifele, who was ejected from Game 1 with a major penalty and game misconduct at 19:03 of the third period for charging Canadiens forward Jake Evans. Scheifele has a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday.
Absences are part of the adjustments, Copp said, and he’s one of Winnipeg’s versatile forwards who can play center and wing. In addition to regular centers Scheifele, Dubois, Stastny, Adam Lowry and Nate Thompson, the Jets have Copp, Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault, who each have NHL experience at the position.
“I’ve kind of been getting used to flipping back and forth between center and wing over the course of the last few years,” Copp said. “We’re deeper now than we had been. It’s kind of that next man up mentality. We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries, maybe not so much this year, but over the course of my career here.
“I think we’ve faced enough adversity over the time here that losing one game in the playoffs isn’t going to change our belief or our trust in each other.”