Following a big bounceback effort from the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday evening, the Winnipeg Jets will look to rebound as they meet again on Saturday evening.
With first-place still very much up for grabs in the competitive all-Canadian division, the Jets will be eager to turn the tables after a dismal showing against Toronto their last time out. Starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck was pulled early, after allowing three goals in the first few minutes of game action. Winnipeg’s defense was exploited by Toronto’s high-octane attack, and though the Jets vow to be better, they’ll need to prove it on Saturday night.
For the Leafs, Thursday’s contest was a necessary response to a prolonged five-game losing streak. Though Toronto had been playing solidly during that stretch, goaltending and defensive breakdowns were proving to be their downfall. Jack Campbell fared quite well on Thursday, while a revamped defense featuring youngster Rasmus Sandin showed more poise with the puck, and quicker movement.
With both squads gunning for first-place and only a few weeks of regular season action remaining, Saturday’s contest should bring out the best in these two teams. The Jets have proven they can hang with the high-powered Leafs, but Thursday’s clash was sure to leave a bitter taste. Can they pull closer with a big win on Saturday night? It promises to be interesting that is for sure – so continue reading on beneath the posted odds for further game analysis and a betting prediction for this all-Canadian clash.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets Betting Odds:
Toronto Maple Leafs (-125)
@ Winnipeg Jets (+110)
Over 6 (-110)
Under 6 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets Pick:
Make no mistake about it, Saturday night is very much a statement game for the WInnipeg Jets. That dressing room boasts a ton of pride and experience, and despite trailing Toronto in the standings – you better believe that group feels like it is better than the Leafs. That said, it’s one thing to say it, and it’s another to go out there and prove it. And on Saturday night, Winnipeg will have a lot to prove.
Toronto outplayed the Jets on Thursday night, and were likely better in every facet. One area Winnipeg should take back is the advantage between the pipes, where Connor Hellebuyck should respond from a dismal showing. The American netminder has always bounced back throughout his career, and he’ll be eager to turn in a solid showing against fellow countryman, Jack Campbell.
Campbell started his season red-hot for the Leafs, but has faded to league average ever since. While he boasts good athleticism and can make stellar saves on second-chance opportunities, Campbell has looked small in the net of late – getting beat routinely on shots from distance. With Winnipeg’s plethora of talented shooters, that could be a bad omen.
There’s also the issue of Toronto’s suspect defensive corps. They all look a little tired and beat-up right now, and simply haven’t been as good as they were with puck movement and possession as earlier in the season. Morgan Rielly has struggled on the top pair, while the second pair of Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl have struggled mightily with the speed of Winnipeg’s forwards and their relentless forecheck. Meanwhile, their third-pairing of Travis Dermott and Rasmus Sandin are still wildly inexperienced and untested. Look for Jets’ coach Paul Maurice to exploit those matchup advantages with last change.
While the line hasn’t changed all that much since Thursday night, the Jets do a lot of things well that can frustrate Toronto. The Leafs are still very much in the process of experimenting and refining their process and optimal lineups – but boast questionable goaltending, defensive play, and special teams. Winnipeg will enter Saturday motivated to respond, and their high-end talent are well-suited to exploit the Leafs in those key areas. At plus-money home underdogs, look for the Jets to bounce back in a big way come Saturday evening.