WINNIPEG -- Avoiding the opening night of NHL competition might be difficult in Winnipeg on Thursday evening.
The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will be play before a national audience on CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada." The Canadiens will visit the Jets on Sunday in Winnipeg's first NHL regular-season game since 1996.
Fans in Winnipeg will be able to watch the game on big screens at The Forks as part of the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off on Thursday.
Jets coach Claude Noel was asked whether he would sit down with a bag of popcorn and take in the Canadiens-Maple Leafs game. Noel did not coach in the League last season, so the telecast will provide him with an early scouting report on his club's first opponent.
"I don't know about popcorn," Noel said, "but I'll watch the game tonight. Montreal, we play them, so we'll get a glimpse of what we'll be up against and go from there."
Replies from a number of Jets players varied as to whether, and how much, of Thursday's Montreal-Toronto contest they will sample.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec plans to take in the game at home. A quiet night at home might be the last calm that Pavelec is able to experience until Monday morning.
"(I'm) really excited," Pavelec said of Sunday's game. "It's going to be huge. It's going to be a really exciting night for us."
Still, Noel, Pavelec and the rest of the Jets all agreed that Sunday can't arrive quick enough.
"I can't wait for the season to start," Noel said.