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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Showdown Against Maple Leafs

Coming off a dominating 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, the Winnipeg Jets finally traveled home after finishing a seven-game road trip and they’ll now face off against the North Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.

With six games remaining against Toronto – including Wednesday’s contest – there’ll likely be a ton of shuffling at the top of the standings in the north from now until the end of the regular season, especially since these two teams are currently separated by just one point. But considering Winnipeg owns a 2-1-1 record against them in 2021, not to mention they’ve also won four of their last five games, chances are they’ll end up winning this season series against one of the top teams in the league.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ fifth game of the season against the Maple Leafs:

1. Mark Scheifele Remaining With Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers

In a surprising move Monday, coach Paul Maurice decided to shake up the top six forwards early in the game, swapping forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele. Proving to be an extremely rewarding decision, this newly formed second line that features Kyle Connor, @Nikolaj Ehlers and Scheifele generated two goals and eight points against the Flames.

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Hoping to replicate this success, Maurice has chosen to keep this trio together for at least the first game of this two-game series against the Maple Leafs, however, this loaded group might remain together for an extended period of time after they dominated on Monday. As for the club’s top line, it’ll also be very important for veterans Blake Wheeler and Paul Stastny to continue creating chemistry with Dubois as they aim to enjoy a solid performance at Bell MTS Place.

2. Staying Out of Penalty Trouble 

While Winnipeg has been somewhat effective at killing penalties this season, as they’re currently tied for the 16th-highest success rate (78.4%) on the penalty kill, they’ve struggled to stay out of the “sin bin” recently, which has led to an increased number of power-play goals allowed. In total, this club has taken 10 penalties over the last three games (tied for fifth-most since Mar. 26) and has surrendered a trio of power-play goals during that span, which is tied for most in the league.

Even though the Maple Leafs’ power-play units have faltered this month, resulting in a measly 12.5% conversion rate (tied for seventh-lowest), they still feature plenty of superstar talent with the man advantage and could easily break out of this slump at any time. With this in mind, it’d be wise for the Jets to play as safe as possible in hopes of staying out of trouble Wednesday night.

3. Potential Career Night For Kyle Connor

Despite being featured on Winnipeg’s second line this season, although an argument could be made that it’s been the club’s most productive unit, Connor is enjoying another strong performance and his impressive efforts could allow him to enjoy a historic night during this matchup against Toronto. As of right now, the 24-year-old is just one even-strength goal away from passing fan-favorite Dustin Byfuglien for ninth-most and is also just two power-play goals away from passing former captain Andrew Ladd for ninth-most in franchise history, according to Jets PR.

Considering Connor leads the Jets in goals (17) and is positioned alongside Scheifele and Ehlers, there’s a pretty strong chance he’ll find the back of the net at least once during five-on-five situations Wednesday night. As for his production with the man advantage, the former first-round selection has only scored three power-play goals this month, but he could receive plenty of scoring chances on the wing if the Maple Leafs fail to remain disciplined during this showdown.

Lineups: 

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Nikolaj Ehlers
NIKOLAJ EHLERS

Rating: 75.7#20 RW

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Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 LW

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 C

Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Logan Stanley
LOGAN STANLEY
Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Toronto Maple Leafs: 

LW C RW
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 74.6#33 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 82.3#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 76.6#18 RW

Alex Galchenyuk
ALEX GALCHENYUK

Rating: 70.8#115 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 77.6#15 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 76.1#23 RW

Joe Thornton
JOE THORNTON

Rating: 72.3#74 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 70.8#113 C

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 69.4#126 RW

Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.0#42 LW

Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.0#98 C

Wayne Simmonds
WAYNE SIMMONDS

Rating: 70.2#112 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 75.3#14 LD

T.J. Brodie
T.J. BRODIE

Rating: 74.2#27 RD

Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.1#17 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 72.0#61 RD

Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 71.7#83 LD

Zach Bogosian
ZACH BOGOSIAN

Rating: 71.4#76 RD

Where to Watch/Listen:

The puck will drop at 6:30 pm CT, yes, we’re finally back to a normal start time, and will be available on SN along with 680 CJOB.