The NHL is nearing a close as the final night of only regular season play will be on May 14. One game is up on the board before the postseason starts Saturday. This matchup will be between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets. These two teams have been solid this season and will look to finish strong. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NHL Network.
Toronto has earned a record of 35-13-7 throughout this season, which has them sitting in the top spot of the North Division. The Maple Leafs lost their last game, but have won seven of their last nine games. Toronto is already locked in with a first round matchup against Montreal, which could lead to the sitting of some players in this one. The Maple Leafs will still look to finish strong with a win though.
The Jets have put up a record of 29-23-3 to this point in the season, which has them in third place of the North Division. Winnipeg is locked into the third spot of the division, which means they will play the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. The Jets won their last game, but have lost nine of their last eleven. Winnipeg will look to get some momentum going as they enter the postseason.
These two teams are set to play in the in postseason, but will first look to finish the regular season strong with a win in this one. Both teams will likely sit some players out since neither team can move around in the standings anymore. I think that the Jets will come out hot in this one as they try to avoid stumbling their way into the postseason.
The Maple Leafs and Jets have met up nine times so far this season. Toronto hosted the first two games of the season series. Mitch Marner scored twice in the first game to lift the Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win. Neal Pionk had three assists, while Andrew Copp had a goal and an assist in the second meeting to lift Winnipeg to a 4-3 victory.
The third and fourth game of the season series stayed in Toronto on March 11 and 13. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews each had a goal and an assist as the Maple Leafs earned a 4-3 win in overtime in the third game. Mason Appleton, Adam Lowry and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist in the fourth meeting to give Winnipeg a 5-2 win.
Winnipeg hosted the fifth and sixth game of the season series on March 31 and April 2. Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews each had a goal and an assist in the fifth game as Toronto earned a 3-1 win on the road. Jason Spezza had an assist and the shootout winner in the sixth matchup. Jack Campbell stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Maple Leafs won 2-1.
The next three games of the season series were between April 15 and 24. Kyle Connor had two goals and an assist in the seventh meeting to lift the Jets to a 5-2 win. Mitch Marner had two goals and an assist in the eighth game as Toronto bounced back with a 5-3 win. Jack Campbell finished with 25 saves on 26 shots in the most recent game to lead the Maple Leafs to a 4-1 win.
Toronto has been solid on the power play throughout this season. The Maple Leafs have scored on 30 of their 146 power play chances, which is a 20.6 percent success rate. Toronto’s penalty kill has struggled a bit on the season though. The Maple Leafs have killed off 105 of their opponents 136 power play attempts, which is a 77.2 percent penalty kill.
The Jets have been strong on both sides of special teams throughout this season. Winnipeg has capitalized on 37 of their 153 power play opportunities, which is a 24.2 percent power play. The Jets have given up 28 power play goals on 142 penalties against, which is an 80.3 percent kill rate. Winnipeg will look to keep up their success on special teams in this one.
Winnipeg has the edge on special teams with the better power play and penalty kill. The Jets will look to draw a few power play chances in this one to give themselves a chance to attack Toronto’s struggling penalty kill. The Maple Leafs power play has been solid though and will look to match. If either team can score a power play goal or two, it could be enough to give them the win.
I expect Jack Campbell to get the start in the crease for the Maple Leafs in this one. Campbell has earned a record of 17-2-2 through his 21 starts this season. He has posted a save percentage of .923 and a 2.11 GAA in those games. Campbell finished with 21 saves on 23 shots in his last start against the Canadiens, which was enough for the win.
Connor Hellebuyck will likely get the nod in between the pipes for Winnipeg on Friday night. Hellebuyck has started 44 games this season, going 23-17-3 throughout those games. He has put up a .915 save percentage and a GAA of 2.60. Hellebuyck’s last start was against the Vancouver Canucks where he stopped all 24 shots he faced in the win.
These two goalies have been strong throughout this season. Hellebuyck has the bigger sample size this season, but his stats are a bit lower than Campbell’s. The Jets will look to give Hellebuyck some extra support against Toronto’s offense. If Winnipeg can come out strong on offense though, I think they can score some on Campbell early to earn the win.
The Maple Leafs have been the better team this season and it shows in the season series. Toronto has won six of the nine games against the Jets this season, but I think Winnipeg will bounce back with a win to end the season. The Jets have the better special teams and I think Hellebuyck will come out strong in net. If Winnipeg can put pressure on early, I think they can win this one.
BetOnline has the Maple Leafs listed as a -155 against the money line in this one. This implies that Toronto will win this game around 60.8 percent of the time. I think that this line is a little bit too big with it being the last game of the season. Neither team can move in the standings, but Winnipeg has more to play for as they try to end this losing slump before the playoffs start. I am taking the Jets as underdogs at home.