While the Winnipeg Jets are without captain Blake Wheeler for their two-game set in Montreal, Thursday and Saturday, the Canadiens are without Brendan Gallagher.
Both fill similar leadership roles, setting the tone for their teammates.
“Those guys play hard every shift and every night, they really help your consistency as a team,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said before Thursday’s opening faceoff. “And then it’s a little bit of a test of leadership. All great leaders certainly set a standard for the people around them but they also build other leaders.
“So, we’ve got other men now that have to fill Blake’s role and show the way on the ice, but also make sure we monitor our emotions and we stay up when things aren’t going our way and don’t get too carried away with ourselves when it is going.”
Wheeler and linemates Pierre-Luc Dubois and Paul Stastny were still working on their chemistry, so that gets disrupted.
It’s his captain’s calming effect that stands out for Dubois.
“He’s not the guy that talks the whole game on the bench, in the room, on the ice, but when he talks it has a lot of impact,” Dubois said. “When he talks, people listen. Sometimes if guys are getting nervous or if some guys feel like it’s getting out of hand or something and then you see him and how relaxed and composed he is, it calms you down.”
A long wait
Wheeler’s suspected concussion, suffered in Monday’s win over Ottawa, opened the door for Jansen Harkins to get in the lineup for this five-game road trip.
Harkins had been waiting on the taxi squad for more than six weeks.
“At the end of the day we’re on a great team making a good run, there’s a lot to be happy about,” Harkins said, pre-game. “Just getting to come to the rink and play hockey every day is not such a bad thing, so it’s not too difficult. It’s trying to keep the fire alive while practising and try to stay ready. The hardest part is doing the same thing every day without getting a chance to play.”