The Maple Leafs are heading into Winnipeg for their first meeting of the season against a familiar foe from the 2020-21 season (8:00 p.m. EST, TSN3&4).
The continued struggles of Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl has inspired Sheldon Keefe and Dean Chynoweth to take a peek at a Muzzin-Liljegren pairing tonight. After his injury scare last night, it’s encouraging that Jason Spezza will start on the top line with Auston Matthews with Mitch Marner sitting out his second consecutive game.
The Jets are posting mediocre wins-loss results again so far this season, including six losses in their last eight, but their underlying 5v5 numbers are much improved: They’re top 10 in expected goals share, shot attempt share, shot share, and scoring chance share. However, they’re hovering around or inside the bottom 10 on both sides of special teams, which is hurting them in the standings.
The Jets are healthy, rested, and have been waiting in Winnipeg after a wild 8-4 win over New Jersey on Friday night. This will be a good challenge for the Leafs and rookie netminder Joseph Woll, who is looking for his fourth win in his first four NHL starts tonight.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on the challenge the Jets will provide for netminder Joseph Woll:
They are a very dangerous team offensively when you make mistakes. It is a good challenge for Joe. More importantly, it is a big challenge for our team. We have to do a job in front of him.
Keefe on the improvements the team has made this season over last:
I don’t think we are playing a whole lot differently than last season. I just think we have been able to put it together for longer stretches. That is why we have been able to compete here so consistently throughout.
Keefe on the threat the Jets pose to his team tonight:
[Paul Maurice] has his team playing well this season. They have some differences in their personnel and differences in how they are playing a little bit from last season. We are prepared for a good game here tonight.
They are coming off of a game where they scored big and won big. They had guys that were looking to break out and broke out. We are expecting them to come in and be very confident here on home ice. I am sure they are looking at us coming in here after a tough game last night, on a back-to-back, and are looking to play and compete against us tonight. We are expecting their absolute best here today.
They have a lot of weapons on their team we respect greatly. We have to be prepared for that. They play hard. They are a big, strong team. They have great goaltending.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice on the matchup challenge against the Leafs if they situationally load up a line with Tavares and Matthews in Marner’s absence:
We would handle it the same way the Draisaitl and McDavid situation was handled. It may eventually even be the Lowry line. I really liked what they did. We have used them in the checking role. If you load up a line, you kind of have to make a decision on who is your most effective line at both ends that night — if it is Dubois’ line, or Scheif, or it could be Lowry.
A lot of times, it is different against Edmonton because their shift length is long. They’ll take two shifts against a line. You just pick your best and kind of build a pyramid there. I am comfortable either way, if it is Lowry third, running that against them.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #19 Jason Spezza
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#20 Nick Ritchie – #64 David Kampf – #25 Ondrej Kase
#43 Kyle Clifford – #47 Pierre Engvall – #24 Wayne Simmonds
#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#8 Jake Muzzin – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #3 Justin Holl
Starter: #60 Joseph Woll
#36 Jack Campbell
Extras: Travis Dermott
Injured: Ilya Mikheyev, Petr Mrazek, Mitch Marner
Winnipeg Jets Projected Lines
#81 Kyle Connor – #55 Mark Scheifele – #26 Blake Wheeler
#9 Andrew Copp – #80 Pierre-Luc Dubois – #27 Nikolaj Ehlers
#25 Paul Stastny – #17 Adam Lowry – #93 Kristian Vesalainen
#12 Jansen Harkins – #21 Dominic Toninato – #71 Evgeny Svechnikov
#44 Josh Morrissey – #88 Nate Schmidt
#5 Brenden Dillon – #4 Neal Pionk
#64 Logan Stanley – #2 Dylan DeMelo
Starter: #37 Connor Hellebuyck
Injured/Out: Bryan Little