The Montreal Canadiens will take on the Winnipeg Jets for their final game of the 2019 Rookie Tournament hoping to bounce back from a shaky loss to Ottawa.
The Montreal Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets are in the same boat as the 2019 Rookie Tournament draws close to its end. Both teams lost their opening match to the Ottawa Senators; however, it takes no analysis to say the Jets took the harsher of the two defeats.
The Habs had things going for them when they could and benefited from the play of their top line of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Ryan Poehling, and Nick Suzuki. Jake Evans and Liam Howel were also standouts on the ice, but it was defensive errors that cost the team the game. What the coaching staff will be looking for is how well this group of players responds.
Poehling and Suzuki will likely take charge as they have the most to prove. Can Josh Brook, who didn’t have the best of performances, be more solid in his end? Can the powerplay connect on those pretty plays both units were creating on the man advantage? These players have one more game and hopefully, they can make it count.
Head coach Joël Bouchard knows his players have more to give saying this after last night’s loss:
If we compare it to the Rookie Tournament last year, it was night and day. We made a lot of nice plays. We didn’t score a lot of goals. I think we could have scored more. I liked the effort, and I think the guys gave what they could give. It wasn’t enough, but I’m really happy with the way the guys handled themselves.
You could see a little of what Bouchard was talking about as the game went on. The opening period was sloppy at times as the players adjusted to each other. But as it continued, the flow of play improved and chemistry started to form, especially between Poehling and Suzuki.
We built some chemistry together quickly. It’s easy to play with Ryan, and Harvey-Pinard is good at getting loose pucks. I think we did good work.
The Jets, on the other hand, made some changes from the initial lines used on Friday:
Kristian Vesalainen, C.J. Suess and Kristian Reichel were a line together against the Senators but have been split up to get a different look.
The Jets aren’t making excuses for themselves but named travel fatigue and nerves as two of the main reasons why they weren’t their best. The Montreal Canadiens have what it takes to succeed in this match. However, growth is the key here.
BELLEVILLE, Ont.—The Winnipeg Jets only have one way to go for Game 2 of their rookie tournament against Montreal tonight, and that’s up.
The Jets dropped their first game, 8-1, to Ottawa on Friday, looking completely out-classed by a more talented and energized Senators team.
“It’s going to be the same type of game, but the difference will be that we didn’t travel 12 hours the day before,” Jets coach Pascal Vincent said, Sunday morning. “We’re more rested. When I look back at the game, first period we had some energy. But it was quite obvious after the first period that the energy level went close to zero. It was not just one or two players. It was the whole team.
“Tonight there’s no excuse. Mistakes will be made for sure. But there’s one that can’t be made. It’s the intensity level.”
Vincent, head coach of the Manitoba Moose, the Jets AHL affiliate, will turn to goalie Griffen Outhouse, who played the third period of Friday’s game in relief of starter Adam Carlson.
The undrafted Outhouse is fresh off his junior career with Victoria of the Western League, so this will be his first start against pro-calibre shooters.
“Obviously it’s the highest level of hockey that I’ve ever played… I had the shakes going a little bit,” the 21-year-old said of entering Friday’s game for the final period. “I didn’t really know what to expect. A little unsure of myself. After that I’m a lot more confident coming into this game.”
Outhouse is from tiny Likely, B.C., a mining community an hour north of Williams Lake. Population, around 300.
“My school was K to 7. I think we had 18 kids at the school,” he said. “I was lucky, I had two kids in my grade.”
The hockey facilities weren’t much, either.
“The lake when it freezes,” Outhouse said. “That’s all we’ve got there. We always had to drive out an hour to Williams Lake.”
One of those drives was particularly memorable.
When he was around 10 years old, Outhouse met World Junior champion Carey Price, who brought his gold medal back to the town where he played minor hockey.
“That was massive,” Outhouse said. “Something I’ll never forget.”
Tonight’s game is significant, too, for a guy who has designs on stopping pucks for a living but who doesn’t have a contract. He’s simply here on a Jets invitation.
“I’m not going to make it too big of a deal,” Outhouse said. “I’m just going to try to be myself, showcase what I can do.”
If it doesn’t work out immediately, he’s enrolled at the University of Alberta, Canada’s scholastic hockey powerhouse.
“If I get an opportunity to play pro, that’s what I want to do,” he said. “But I can’t throw all my eggs in one basket coming here.”
Outhouse describes himself as a “read and react” goalie.
As for his colourful last name, he says the reaction he gets is usually positive.
“The most trash talk I probably hear is someone on Twitter,” he said. “Fans seem to love the last name. I’ve never really heard anything on the ice. No one says anything. From friends I’ve got a couple of nicknames that I’m not allowed to say.”
Vincent liked the statement Outhouse made by coming into Friday’s blowout and playing well, only giving up one goal.
“It’s not easy. But the report we have on him is he competes really hard,” Vincent said. “He can face that kind of adversity. First pro game, you’re cold and you’re going in the net, you know your team is down by multiple goals, a tough one for him. But he responded well. I really like the way he competed.”
Vincent will juggle his lines a bit tonight, pairing 2017 first-round draft pick Kristian Vesalainen with 2018 second-rounder David Gustafsson.
“We’re trying combinations,” the coach said. “If it works, good. If it doesn’t, we didn’t mind Vesalainen, (C.J.) Seuss and (Kristian) Reichel.”
The Jets will wrap up the tournament with a second game against Ottawa on Monday.