At first I thought this was a game against the Ottawa Senators because I looked at the wrong day on the calendar, but that is the next three games. Alas, the Winnipeg Jets will first play the Toronto Maple Leafs for a game before heading (slightly) north.
If you ask Leafs fans their goalies are the worst ever and should be fired into the sun. Frederick Andersen did have a rough first game, but definitely not rough enough to be fired into the sun. It should be interesting to see who starts tonight as it seems like Jack Campbell was stronger in game two, but Andersen is their starter. On the other hand, every point counts this year with only 56 games.
The Leafs have a rather potent attack up front, although it sounds like their fans are not super impressed with Mitch Marner again. Hey, I don’t know what’s going on there because watching the Leafs for fun is never a thought that goes through my head.
The Jets will be facing the Leafs formidable forwards without Tucker Poolman. Logan Stanley has been called up from the Taxi Squad and should make his NHL debut tonight. Should be fun. The only other concern for the Jets is Patrik Laine left practice early yesterday. No news how serious it is; hopefully we find out more today.
The Jets were on high alert after having to cancel Saturday’s practice under COVID caution. Defenceman Tucker Poolman was on the NHL’s COVID alert list, forward Nikolaj Ehlers had missed a workout earlier in the week, while Dylan DeMelo had a happier reason to be absent the last couple of days, attending his wife, who was giving birth. DeMelo and Poolman did not travel to Toronto Sunday.
COOL YOUR JETS
This will be only the second game of the season for the Jets, who had a thrilling rally to earn a 4-3 overtime win over Calgary. After last season’s fast playoff exit at the hands of the Flames, Winnipeg overcame a 3-1 deficit on Thursday with some carefully chosen intermission words from head coach Paul Maurice and a three-point game from Patrik Laine.
FOCUS ON FREDDY
Frederik Andersen can quash any talk of a goalie controversy in Toronto with a strong game, assuming he starts as planned. Nine goals against in his first two games set off alarm bells, and Jack Campbell’s win (in front of a far better Leafs defensive effort that limited Ottawa to 19 shots) raised the latter’s standing.
STAY IN YOUR LAINE, EH?
Laine was hurt in the Jets’ practice on Sunday, a possible hip-area injury, and might not play against Toronto, But his performance versus Calgary swept away much of the gloom surrounding camp when he checked in amid much trade request speculation. He not only scored, but got involved physically, helping out teammate Kyle Connor in a scrum, all in just about 16 minutes of ice time. Like Auston Matthews of the Leafs, the only player picked ahead of him in the 2016 draft, Laine thrives in season openers, never without a point in all five.
The Leafs can settle in for three games at the SBA this week, regaining last line change. Four of the last eight games between Toronto and Winnipeg at SBA have gone to overtime. Toronto assistant coach Paul MacLean needs no intro to the Jets logo, as he had three 40-goal seasons for them in the 1980s, while Maurice once coached Toronto.
JETS vs. LEAFS (2019-20)
LEADERS G A P +/-
Mark Scheifele 2 1 3 1
Kyle Connor 1 2 3 2
Neal Pionk 0 2 2 -1
Nikolai Ehlers 1 0 1 -1
LEAFS vs. JETS (2019-20)
LEADERS G A P +/-
William Nylander 2 1 3 2
Auston Matthews 2 1 3 0
Kasperi Kapanen 1 2 3 1
Mitchell Marner 1 1 2 0
LEFT WING CENTRE RIGHT WING
Joe Thornton Auston Matthews Mitch Marner
Jimmy Vesey John Tavares William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev Alexander Kerfoot Zach Hyman
Alexander Barabanov Jason Spezza Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin Justin Holl
Travis Dermott Zach Bogosian
Sick Bay: LW Nick Robertson (knee).
LEFT WING CENTRE RIGHT WING
Andrew Copp Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor Paul Stastny Patrik Laine
Jansen Harkins Adam Lowry Mason Appleton
Mathieu Perreault Nate Thompson Trevor Lewis
Josh Morrissey Sami Niku
Derek Forbort Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley Nathan Beaulieu
Sick Bay: D Tucker Poolman (Covid caution), D Dylan DeMelo (personal), F Bryan Little (Head/ear), F Nikolaj Ehlers (undisclosed), F Patrik Laine (lower body)
Leafs: PP 35.8% (5th) PK 76.9% (15th)
Jets: PP 25.0% (14th) PK 66.7% (25th)
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in more of a game rhythm than their opponent right now, which might have more sway over an early-season matchup than the long-term trends.
Jets vs Maple Leafs | OddsShark Matchup Report
However, the Maple Leafs are 4-8 over 12 home games as a favourite of -150 or deeper into minus money, with the total finishing OVER in three of those four contests. Winnipeg, which is coming off of a three-day break, has a 2-6 record over its last eight games as an underdog.
The Jets, who will have the tight turnaround before visiting the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, are 6-3 in their last nine games when they were also slated to play the next day.
The Jets are 1-0-0, but have not played since their season opener on January 14. They are just 4-4-1 in their last nine games after a three-day break, and lost a day of practice on Saturday after potential COVID-19 exposure. Led by center Mark Scheifele and right wing Patrik Laine, Winnipeg earned 52.7 percent of five-on-five shot attempts in its outing against the Calgary Flames, while Natural Stat Trick credited the Jets with a 9-4 edge in high-danger chances.
The Jets could be thinned-out defensively as Dylan DeMelo (personal) is questionable to play while Tucker Poolman (COVID-19 protocol) will be sidelined. Winnipeg’s power play was one-for-four in that sole game, while the penalty killing unit went 2-for-3.
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck has a 3-3-1 record with a 3.40 goals-against average and .893 save percentage in eight career games against Toronto.
The Maple Leafs are 2-1-0 as they embark on their fourth game in six nights. While it is a small sample size, Toronto has generated 57.3 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts in its three games, but Natural Stat Trick’s numbers say they have generated only 43.75 percent of the high-danger chances.
Limiting the damage against the opportunistic Jets will be a main concern. Center Auston Matthews is still seeking his first even-strength goal this season even though he has had a team-high 14 scoring chances, but he is one of four Leafs forwards – along with Mitchell Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares – with at least two even-strength points.
Toronto is off to a hot start on the power play, scoring on 38.5 percent of their extra-skater chances, while the penalty killing unit is operating at 76.9 percent efficiency.
Frederik Andersen is off to a slow start, but the veteran Leafs goalie is 9-0-2 with a 2.84 GAA and .910 save percentage in 12 career games against Winnipeg. Backup Jack Campbell has a 1-2-1 record with a 2.01 GAA and .942 save percentage in four career games against Winnipeg.
The Maple Leafs’ three-game home stretch also includes matchups against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and Friday.