(Winnipeg) The songs you hear in arenas in English-speaking markets generally end up sounding similar, but there’s always that moment where the notes clash. For example, Saturday at the Canada Life Centre, when Macarena was heard.

The guilty ? The one with blood on his hands for subjecting us to the success of Los Del Rio? Gabriel Vilardi. Jets players each have their own song to celebrate their home goals, and Vilardi, acquired this summer from the Kings, requested this song. On Saturday, he scored his first goal in Winnipeg this season.

“It’s from my best friend. I wasn’t sure what to choose, but it looks like the fans like it! “, said the attacker, a little amused, after the Jets’ morning training, in preparation for the evening’s duel against the Canadian.

Vilardi and Alex Iafallo have the Jets looking pretty good after 29 games this season. Remember that this summer, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff sent the disgruntled Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Kings, against forwards Vilardi, Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, as well as a 2nd round pick.

Vilardi, a 1st round pick (11th overall) in 2017, was seen as the centerpiece of this transaction from the Jets’ perspective. He was injured in the third game, but returned to action on November 30. In eight games since his return, he has eight points, and continues to show that his haul of 23 goals last year, in just 63 games, was no flash in the pan.

Kupari is injured and playing a limited role, while Iafallo has 15 points in 29 games, playing in the middle lines. While not spectacular, his production is higher than Dubois’ 12 points in 27 outings. Except that Dubois is $8.5 million under the Kings’ payroll, compared to $7.4 million for Iafallo and Vilardi, combined.

With the support of these two in particular, here are the Jets fighting for 1st place in the Central Division with the Avalanche, whom they beat decisively on Saturday. Not bad for a team that has been treading water since its presence in the Western final in 2018.

“Dubois is gone, [Blake] Wheeler too. Left… We were trying something new, explained Nikolaj Ehlers. And we have three new guys coming in who are giving us immediate results. It’s very exciting. The leaders have been here for a while. I don’t think we changed that much, we weren’t starting from scratch.

Wheeler and Mark Scheifele were the last two players who played for the Jets when they returned here in 2011 who were still with the team.

“We lost two good guys, two leaders,” recalled the Dane. Wheels was here for years, he was the captain, a strong personality in the dressing room. Dubois comes from Montreal, he has a big personality. I was sad to see them go. But it’s a business and you have to look at the guys who have arrived. They split their asses in four. It looks like they’ve been here for years. »

The Habs will therefore have the mission to defeat this team which has exceeded expectations so far. At the same time, Montrealers will want to create better memories of the holiday season.

The younger generation of the team does not in fact have very glorious memories of any segment of the calendar. Last year, the team went 1-5-1 in its seven straight road games. The previous year, the pre-Christmas portion of the trip was postponed due to COVID-19. After Christmas, with a team in tatters, CH had a record of 0-2-1.

In short, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Jake Evans and Samuel Montembeault essentially only suffered defeats during the holidays.

“Mentally, we are in a better position, we don’t have guys coming in and out every game,” Suzuki said. Last year, it was difficult to constantly lose guys. We play good hockey, we want to continue. »

Speaking of players coming in and out, Montreal will deploy the same squad as Saturday, said Martin St-Louis. Only difference: Jake Allen should start the duel in net. He will be aiming for his first victory since October 28, when he defeated these same Jets.