Potential Round One Matchup: Jets vs. Maple Leafs
By Angus Hout1 year ago
After a seven-game losing streak, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Calgary Flames, clinched their playoff spot and eliminated the “C of Red” from playoff contention. It couldn’t be more poetic beating the Flames, a team who abused and eliminated the Jets last year. But this is 2021, things are different. It’s the year of the good guy, the heel has fallen and it feels great. Let’s enjoy the fact the Jets are going to playoffs this year and just breathe for the time being while waiting for the playoffs.
The Jets will either see the Edmonton Oilers or the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one. Both the Oilers and the Maple Leafs are scary first-round opponents with high-level skill skaters and goalies who are hot. Personally, I would rather the Jets face the Leafs in round one. The Maple Leafs are a streaky team. Right now, the Maple Leafs are looking hot and they’re 6-3-1 in the last ten games, they’ve been beating the playoff teams, have lost twice against the Vancouver Canucks and once against the Jets.
When Toronto is hot, they are supernova and when they come back down to earth they’re a below-average team. Although the Maple Leafs are currently 6-3 against the Jets, two of those wins came during this recent losing skid, when this team was missing key players. @Connor Hellebuyck has had the Maple Leafs number prior to that losing streak. In his first four games against Toronto, Hellebuyck has had a .934 save percentage. The Jets have been outscored 24-18 in the series against the Maple Leafs. Winnipeg wasn’t scoring or shooting during those losses against Toronto, but when they shoot they can beat most goalies. There’s one more regular season game left against the Maple Leafs, it’s the last game of the regular season. It could either be a complete blood bath or a very dull affair from both teams.
On Paper, Jets Look Like They’re Going to Lose
Let’s remember, this is the playoffs where anything can happen. In all the time I’ve been watching hockey, the Maple Leafs have never moved past the first round. The Jets have a Stanley Cup winner in @Trevor Lewis. It’s not a lot, but a wise person who has already won Lord Stanley and is a major asset on a playoff team. On the other hand, the Maple Leafs have professional choker, jumbo @Joe Thornton on their team and no Stanley Cup winners. I’m not knocking them, but you need experienced winners, not dinosaurs who’re taking one last shot at a cup run.
When injury strikes, bad things happen but if everyone can stay healthy the Jets are a far more complete offensive team. Yes, the top-end skill of the Maple Leafs is more than elite, but you can’t win with two lines. Eventually, you can figure a team out and stay on top of the best scorers and frustrate them. If the Jets can keep @Auston Matthews in his little zone he becomes useless. @Nick Foligno is out with an injury and there isn’t a timeline for his return. That disrupts chemistry for Matthews and Foligno. I know @Nikolaj Ehlers is out with an injury right now too, so essentially the two injuries cancel each other out. Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 in Edmonton and the DFO Rundown podcast said on the “Dropping the Gloves” podcast, that he thinks Ehlers will only be playing 70-80 percent rather than at his typical 100 percent, which could mean another lackluster postseason.
There isn’t a strong case for the Jets to move on past the first round of the playoffs, but we have to believe. In 2018, they weren’t supposed to beat the Nashville Predators but they did and they took on the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the next round. I know the makeup of the Jets has changed, but there are new players and better attuides in that locker room. Take it one game at a time and who knows, the Jets could shock the hockey world. If Winnipeg beats Toronto, we can stop hearing about how great they are for a couple of months.
Let me know what you think, can the Jets beat the Maple Leafs in the playoffs? And who would you rather see in round one? Let me know in the comments below or you can always hit me up on Instagram or Twitter, my handle is @angushout.
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