Bruce Fedyck - USA TODAY Sports
These teams figure to be battling each other for bubble spots at the end of the year.
Home sweet home hasn't been so sweet for the Winnipeg Jets this season. The Jets have amassed an ugly 4-6 record at home, but they are up to 8-5-2 on the road. The Jets will be looking to buck this trend and start a home winning streak when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
Many experts in the MSM have lauded the Leafs for their vast improvement over last year despite the fact that they have started each of the last two seasons with nearly identical records. Add to that the fact that the Leafs are doing much worse based on most of the underlying numbers, and we have a team poised for another collapse. Jets fans have to hope it starts tonight.
On the home side, the Jets are coming off of a run of sub-par showings. The goalies have been hot, but the skaters have not. Alexander Burmistrov may find himself in the press box and depth scoring remains an issue. Can the Jets pot a few tonight? The Leafs have been scoring goals despite the fact that they aren't pouring shots on net. Numbers. Percentages. Lets go! Lets go!
Keys to the Game:
Play the spoiler: The Winnipeg Jets sent the Maple Leafs into a tail spin last season. They have to hope they can do the same to the Leafs this year. If the Jets hope to make the playoffs they need to stack wins and have a couple teams fall below the line. Luckily for the Jets, they face a number of teams who sit above them in the standings. If they can win these games in regulation, they can climb the ladder quickly.
Tender tendies: The Jets go as their goalies go. The Jets have not lost in regulation when their goalies have posted a .900 save percentage or better. Unfortunately, they haven't won one (in regulation) with sub .900 goaltending either. If the Pav comes to play, points are on the way. Note: I stole those numbers from Garret.
Special teams: Nothing is happening with the Jets on special teams. No PP goals and no PP goals against. The Jets will need to maintain their recent run of flawless PK work unless they can get the PP rolling. If you can't win special at teams, you need to draw even.
More Goaltending: The Leafs have been riding hot goaltending and nutty shooting percentages to start the season. They are going to need to maintain it if they want to prevent a collapse. Last time the Leafs were in town, local boy James Reimer stole a game for his team. He is starting tonight and he may need to do it again.
Shooting percentages: While puck luck has benefited many of the Leafs, Phil Kessel has been struggling. Kessel is still pouring shots on net, but his shooting percentage is due for a boost. He already has one on Pavelec, he will come seeking more.
Don't start to suck: Okay, most of the underlying numbers suggest they Leafs already suck, but the MSM is in love with them. The Leafs need to live up to the narrative and bully the Jets. This is no time to fall apart.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Joffrey Lupul, because we are hockey hipsters and Leafs fans will be doing it soon. The collapse should coincide almost perfectly with his return, so I imagine the media narratives will be histerical.