JGD #38: Bring on the Maple Leafs

The Winnipeg Jets (19-12-7) have had two days off since their last game on New Years Eve against the New York Islanders, dropping the game 5-2, not the best way to start 2015. But tonight, the Jets have an opportunity to turn things around against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has been on the road since late December and lost last night to the Minnesota Wild 3-1. 

Tonight’s game versus the Maple Leafs will be the first meeting of two during the second half of the 2014-15 season. The Jets currently sit in a Wild Card spot in the Central Division with 45 points, and will play their third game of four at home. 

LINES 

Provided by DailyFaceoff.com 

JETS FORWARDS 

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Please, please, please get Thorburn off the ice and call up Eric O’Dell from the St. John’s IceCaps already! If you didn’t watch the game or fell asleep on Wednesday, Thorburn was awful. At one point he turned the puck over and that would lead to an Islanders goal. *Flips table* 

I wrote an article the other day that the Jets should’ve claimed Magnus Paajarvi off of waivers, but they did not. Which I found really strange given the current state of the Jets bottom six. 

JETS DEFENCE 

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In light of recent injuries to the Jets backend, Dustin Byfuglien has rejoined the blueline and has been great ever since. Coach Maurice says Byfuglien is playing ‘elite defence’ and I agree 100%.  I could not imagine what state this team would be in if Byfuglien was not playing defence

Starting Michael Hutchinson is the best thing you can possibly do now. Even if coach Maurice won’t admit it, he is the Jets starter. He’s played solid hockey between the pipes this season and deserves to start the majority of the games moving forward. 

LEAFS FORWARDS 

  • James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
  • David Booth – Daniel Winnik – Carter Ashton 
  • Leo Komarov – Trevor Smith – David Clarkson 
  • Richard Panik – Greg McKegg – Mike Santorelli 

The Maple Leafs will be without forwards Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland tonight and that’s a huge dent to their roster. The Leafs will rely heavily on their first line and Tyler Bozak, who played a season high 25 minutes last night will do the same tonight. Phil Kessel also played a season high last night 25 minutes, too.  

The Leafs will wrap up their seven game road trip tonight, and they aren’t very rested having played just 24 hours ago. So the Jets need to take advantage of this and come out strong early in. 

LEAFS DEFENCE 

  • Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson 
  • Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak 
  • Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer 

Unlike the forward group, the Leafs have a healthy defence. One thing I should note: Watch out for Cody Franson and his wicked shot that he releases pretty much every game. Last night he scored a bomb of a shot from the point on the power-play, which put him up to 24 points on the season. 

  • James Reimer
  • Jonathan Bernier

Last night in Minnesota, Jonathan Bernier got the nod, so the expectation is Randy Carlyle will roll with James Reimer tonight. 

PREDICTIONS 

Game-Day Prediction: The Winnipeg Jets won the two meetings against the Leafs last season and I think we will see the same outcome tonight.  The good guys win 4-2. 

Obvious Prediction: With Michael Hutchinson in net, I feel a lot more comfortable watching this team play. It’s pretty obvious who the starter it – even if Maurice won’t openly admit it. Hutchinson is your man, start him! 


Not-so-obvious Prediction: Chris Thorburn will have a solid game scoring a goal and an assist.