There’s just one game on the schedule tonight and it’s a clash between the Winnipeg Jets and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jets finally have a win under their belts this season, but look for them to return to their losing ways tonight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won three of their four games and picked
up a point in every contest. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets have lost all but one game
this season with the lone win coming on Monday over the visiting Pittsburgh
Neither team is particularly explosive, so this should be
a low-scoring affair but give the edge to the Leafs as they have looked
stronger to this point in the season and are at home.
The Winnipeg Jets
Can Win Because…:
They’ve got some momentum.
The Jets have been in a bit of a daze over the first few
games of the season as the hoopla of their return has distracted them. They
weren’t able to focus in their home opener against Montreal, and then tacked on
a couple more losses as they went on a two-game road trip through Chicago and
But on Monday, they came back home and pieced together
their best effort of the season. Goaltender Ondreij Pavelec stood tall while
making 28 saves in the 2-1 win and could have had a shutout had the referees
not been asleep on Matt Cooke’s interference on the Pens only goal.
As head coach Claude Noel had said all along, Winnipeg’s
downfall in the early going was not talent; it was merely effort and attitude.
They came out possessed on Monday as Kyle Wellwood scored eight seconds into
the game as the Jets dominated the first period of action.
It got the monkey off the Jets back and it’s going to
give them a boost of confidence. If they can duplicate that effort they have a
good chance to win.
The Toronto Maple
Leafs Can Win Because…:
The Jets are still a few bricks short of a load.
Sure, it’s a heartwarming story that they are back in the
NHL and they are coming off their first win after a 15-year absence, but when
you start examining the x’s and o’s, it’s pretty clear that their offense is
They’ve netted just seven goals in four games and only
one player on the team has more than two points.
Toronto has played well this season and they’ve been
noticeably improved on defense. That means Winnipeg won’t have many chances to
The Leafs are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado
Avalanche but that score line would have been far worse in recent years. James
Reimer has been very poised in net for the Leafs and the blue line in front of
him has been very reliable.
Offensively, the Leafs have gotten the job done and it’s
not like they’ll be facing Scott Stevens and Patrick Roy on Wednesday. The Jets
are penetrable and the Leafs – especially playing at home – will get their
Outlook & NHL
The Jets are finally on the board but they aren’t that
great overall. Meanwhile, Toronto looks like they’re in a higher tier than the
Jets, even if it’s the tier below the East’s elite.
It’s an important game for Toronto as they finish up a
five-game home stand. A 4-1 record looks pretty and more importantly, implies
success. Just three wins after five straight games at home while facing just
one team with a winning record is going to make the Leafs faithful very anxious
– especially with a four-game road trip upcoming with trips to Boston,
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
NHL odds boards list the Leafs at -160 tonight, while the Jets are once again the NHL betting dog at +140. The total is set at 5.5, but I do not believe we will see much scoring excitement out of either of these two.
The Leafs are the better team in this spot and as long as
Reimer is in net and steady as usual, the Leafs are the play.
On the total, the under might be the strongest play of
all as neither team is lighting the lamp with particular ease these days and both
goaltenders are capable of keeping this a low-scoring affair.
Pick: Leafs &