THE CAPTAIN RETURNS
After a six-game absence, Jets captain Blake Wheeler returns with a clean bill of health for the stretch drive. The Jets went 4-2 without Wheeler in the lineup. Paul Maurice chose to reunite the top line of Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor who as a trio have had plenty of success together. The important thing here is that Wheeler feels great and will be at optimal energy levels for the final 11 games.
"I feel good. I'll just leave it at that," said Wheeler on Tuesday.
"Taking it through the stages of day-by-day doesn't do any good. I feel really good and I'm thankful to be on a team with a staff that allowed me to fully heal."
With the return of Wheeler there is a trickle-down effect. Pierre-Luc Dubois is back at centre between Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp returns to the left side of Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton and Mathieu Perreault goes back with Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis. Jansen Harkins is the odd man out. These lines will likely be what we see over at least the next five games.
After coming over in a trade from Vancouver at the deadline and joining his new teammates for a couple of full practices, Jordie Benn will make his Jet debut tonight alongside Dylan DeMelo. DeMelo has had three different defence partners as of late as the Jets take a look at Ville Heinola and Benn to see what they have ahead of the second season. Benn can play both sides as needed and played with the ultra-talented Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers when he was with the Canucks.
"I'm ready to go," Benn said. "I've been skating hard. We haven't had too much of a conversation yet about when I might play, so I've just been letting myself get back into it."
SCHEIF LIKES PLAYING TORONTO
Mark Scheifele has 26 points (13G, 13A) in 21 career games against his home province Maple Leafs. Included in that total is 13 points (7G, 12A) in 12 games at Scotiabank Arena. He was held pointless in the first meeting this season to end a four-game point streak against the Leafs (4G, 1A), but has seven points (2G, 5A) in his past six games.
The Leafs will have new forward Nick Foligno in their lineup this evening for his Toronto debut. Foligno was the big fish for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas before the trade deadline and Nick will play for the same team that his father Mike played for four seasons. Foligno joining the Leafs lineup comes at an important time with Toronto having lost five straight games. The 33-year-old will skate on the top line with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.