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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Matchup Against Maple Leafs

After earning a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night, the Winnipeg Jets barely had any time to enjoy their latest win as they’re scheduled to play the second half of this back-to-back series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which will conclude this team’s current five-game road trip.

Considering Winnipeg currently trails Toronto by five points in the standings, this Thursday night showdown should prove to be extremely important for both of these playoff contenders. Since these two clubs are slated to face off against each other four separate times over the next 10 days, it seems each of those meetings has the potential to become very intense, making for quality entertainment for everyone involved.

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

1. Paul Maurice Blending Top-Six Forwards Yet Again 

With captain Blake Wheeler still recovering from a concussion, the Jets will be without one of their top-six forwards for a fifth straight game, forcing the coaching staff to continue piecing together the top two lines. Making some changes to this group before last game concluded, coach Paul Maurice decided to swap forwards Andrew Copp and Pierre-Luc Dubois, allowing veteran Paul Stastny to move back to center on the second line.

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As a result, Dubois is now positioned on the wing alongside teammates Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele, meaning Copp has been paired with Nikolaj Ehlers and Stastny. While these two trios will almost certainly be adjusted in the near future, especially when Wheeler returns, Maurice is hopeful these new lines can create plenty of havoc against the Maple Leafs.

2. New Additions Being Inserted into Jets Lineup? 

Since just 13 games are remaining in the regular season, yes, we’re already approaching the home stretch, there isn’t much time left for Winnipeg to experiment with the lineup and take a look at some of the skaters who haven’t received much playing time this season. Echoing these remarks prior to Wednesday’s contest, Maurice admitted he wants to insert some fresh bodies into the lineup during these next stretch of games, potentially opening the door for players like Sami Niku, Ville Heinola, Kristian Vesalainen and Dominic Toninato.

In addition to these young skaters, the coaching staff is also very excited to see what newcomer Jordie Benn can bring to this team, although he probably won’t draw into the lineup until Saturday at the earliest. Even if the Jets indeed roll with the same lineup Thursday against the Maple Leafs, there’s no question we’ll be seeing some new faces on the ice very shortly.

3. Importance of Scoring First

Considering Toronto has won three of the six games against Winnipeg when scoring first, and also owns the third-most wins (21) when scoring first this season, chances are whoever finds the back of the net first could ultimately decide the outcome of Thursday’s matchup. Since this club is also playing for the second time in two nights, it’d likely be extremely beneficial for them to grab ahold of the scoreboard early on, potentially helping them avoid a third-period collapse.

With the Jets tied for the sixth-most wins (17) when scoring first, they’re certainly capable of taking an early lead over the Maple Leafs, however, that’s only happened twice against this opponent in 2021. But if they come out strong in the opening period, which probably won’t be easy to accomplish, there’s a very strong chance this team could control the score heading into the second period.

Lineups: 

Winnipeg Jets:

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W C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 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

Nikolaj Ehlers
NIKOLAJ EHLERS

Rating: 75.7#20 RW

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Jansen Harkins
JANSEN HARKINS
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
Alex Galchenyuk
ALEX GALCHENYUK

Rating: 70.8#115 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 82.3#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 76.6#18 RW

Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.0#42 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 77.6#15 C

Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 74.6#33 RW

Joe Thornton
JOE THORNTON

Rating: 72.3#74 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 70.8#113 C

Wayne Simmonds
WAYNE SIMMONDS

Rating: 70.2#112 RW

Nicholas Robertson
NICHOLAS ROBERTSON
Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.0#98 C

Scott Sabourin
SCOTT SABOURIN

Rating: 71.6#86 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 pm CT and will be available on TSN 3 along with 680 CJOB.