The Leafs and Jets are squaring off for the second game of this series in Winnipeg, and the Leafs are not only looking for another win to pull them even further ahead of the pack, they’re also looking to put up another dominant performance against the Jets.
Based on the Leafs xGF% in each game this season, three of their six best performances have come against the Jets this season, with Wednesday’s game being their second best of the season after Jason Spezza’s hat trick game against the Canucks. I think it’s time we stopped fooling ourselves about this being an even matchup. Both teams have the talent, but at even strength, the Jets forwards just can’t bring their game like the Leafs, and the defense isn’t even close to being an even matchup. The only player that’s shown up for the Jets is Connor Hellebuyck, but that can only win you so many games.
That’s not to say the Leafs have dominated every game. Their second worst game of the season came against the Jets in that 5-2 loss a few weeks ago, and it’s one of just three games where the Leafs fell below 40% in xGF% in a game. But, the other four games have seen the Leafs get at least 60%, so to say it’s close isn’t giving the Leafs enough credit.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Leafs Starting Goalie: Jack Campbell???
We’ve had no confirmation up to this point, but barring the usual health concerns, Jack Campbell will probably get the crease tonight. Andersen is still out, so that leaves either Campbell and Hutch, and the Leafs definitely wouldn’t go to Hutch unless it was absolutely necessary, so that’s why the assumption is Campbell. But, it’s all depending on if Campbell feels good today and can play, which we haven’t heard is the case up to this point.
Jets Starting Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck
On the other side, Hellebuyck has been confirmed for the Jets, so at least the Leafs know who they’re facing tonight. Hellebuyck has been the big reason why the Jets are where they are once again, sporting a 17-10-2 record with a .917 save percentage despite playing behind the 8th worst team as far as 5v5 xGF% goes. Despite the fear Leafs fans may have with him, he only has a 1-2-1 record against the Leafs with a .914 save percentage, so the Leafs know how to beat him.
Where to tune in
It’ll be a bit later than normal with an 8pm start time, but it’s a holiday and tomorrow’s Saturday, so it shouldn’t be as much of an issue as the 10pm weekday games. You can catch the game on TSN, where hopefully we’ll listen to more stories from Gord about why Barstool sucks.