There’ll be no Cape Canaveral for anybody as the Toronto Maple Leafs are heading back to Winnipeg.
The Leafs look to bounce back from their three game set with the Jets earlier this month, a set that played a huge role in narrowing the Leafs division lead. Despite entering the series coming off of two losses in Vancouver, the Leafs sat comfortably in the division’s top spot, with the Jets seven points behind them in third place. Despite strong play in the first two games, the Leafs were undone by shaky goaltending, managing only to earn an overtime win in the second game after a third period comeback, before having the wheels completely come off for the final game, a 5-2 loss that the Leafs never truly seemed to be a part of. Even with inconsistent results since the set against the Leafs (the Jets have gone 5-4-0 in nine games following their 5-2 win on March 13th,) the Jets sit a mere point behind the Leafs heading into today, and can leapfrog them with a win tonight.
While the Leafs overall record against the Jets may their “worst” against any opponent this season, that isn’t to say that the Leafs have played poorly against them. Winnipeg has forced a series split so far against the Leafs (2-2-0 in four games while outscoring them a mere 13-12,) but the Leafs have looked like the better team in basically every game so far, with the obvious exception of the aforementioned 5-2 loss. The Leafs have posted a 5v5 xGF% of 62% or higher in three of the four meetings with the Jets this season.
The other big story going into this game for the Leafs remains the powerplay. After failing to score on their lone opportunity on Monday, the powerplay has dropped to 4-and-32 in March, having not scored since March 3rd. While the underlying numbers for the Leafs powerplay look strong (first in shot attempts, xGF per 60, and high dangers shot attempts per 60 in March among all NHL teams,) they’re going to need to find a way to turn some of these chances into actual goals in order to put games away down the stretch. The Leafs experimented with a “new look” powerplay at morning practice, so there may be a chance we see it deployed tonight.
Leafs did some PP work at end of skate … among the units taking reps:
Nylander – Tavares – Matthews
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 31, 2021
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell is likely to start for the Maple Leafs tonight after having Monday night off. Despite the win in his start on Saturday, Campbell looked shakier than he has most nights this season and had to rely on a third period comeback from the Leafs offense in order to secure his sixth win on the season. Campbell sits at a perfect 6-0-0 with a .945 save% and 2 shutouts heading into tonight. The Jets will once against turn to Connor Hellebuyck, who caused the Leafs headaches earlier this month. Hellebuyck is 17-9-2 with a .917 save% and one shutout on the season.
Coverage for tonight begins at 7:30 EST on Sportsnet