Toronto and Winnipeg meet for the first of two meetings this week at the MTS Centre. This will be the teams second meeting this year as the Leafs took a 3-2 decision in Winnipeg back on February 7th. Winnipeg badly out-shot Toronto however 3 of the Leafs 18 shots beat Ondrej Pavelec and James Reimer was solid for Toronto. Phil Kessel got the first goal of his season with under 5 minutes left in that game and that was all she wrote for Winnipeg.
For the first time in 9 years the Toronto Maple Leafs look like a real playoff team. This is the most solid Leafs team we have seen in years, both offensively and defensively the Leafs are strong and when they can get good goaltending from either James Reimer or Ben Scrivens this team looks like contenders. Led offensively by James Van Riemsdyk, who has embraced his role as a top line forward in Toronto and is among the league leaders in goals. The other Leaf who after a slow start seems to be finding his legs and making a lot of noise is Phil Kessel. Kessel has been great this year as a playmaker setting up many goals and finally now is getting some of his own. Toronto has become a scary team to play against and with another game later this week in Ontario the Leafs will try to get the harder one on the road first.
The Jets continued their strong road play Sunday in New Jersey. After falling behind 2 goals early the Jets salvaged a single point in Newark and finished the road trip getting 5 of a possible 8 points. That being said the Jets have to be a little disappointed as had they not come out and laid an egg in the opening period their fortunes may have been different. Recently the change in the winds can be contributed to the goaltending in Winnipeg as Ondrej Pavelec seems to have really picked up his play, something the Jets very much need if they are going to be successful.
Home and Home: This is a little bit of an extended home and home as Winnipeg will visit Toronto on Sunday and these four points are huge. Although you don’t want to look past this game, the harder game for Winnipeg will most likely come Saturday so it is important for them to use the home ice advantage and grab the first 2 of the 4 points available.
Penalty Kill: Last time these teams played special teams were a huge killer for Winnipeg including Toronto scoring the winning goal in the dying minutes with the man advantage. Recently however the Jets have seemingly solved their issues on the PK, this must continue for Jets success.
Play tough: Winnipeg is playing against the team with the most fighting majors in the league, led by Colton Orr and Fraser Mclaren, the Leafs have pushed opposing teams around. Although fighting with this team may not be advisable the Jets cannot be pushed around or intimidated.
Ondrej Pavelec (9-11-2) GAA: 2.82 SV% .902
James Reimer (9-3-1) GAA: 2.66 SV% .919
Enstrom WPG, (Shoulder) out
Redmond WPG, (Thigh Laceration) out
Peluso WPG, (Hand) out
Lupul, TOR, (Forearm) out
Home crowd finally play dividends in a close game
Jets 2 Leafs 1