The Maple Leafs host the Winnipeg Jets tonight, here are three keys to a win.
Amp up the desperation level
The Maple Leafs haven’t been winning games, but they’ve been playing okay. They have dropped the last five games by a one-goal margin. Tonight the Jets will be desperate to pick up two points in a very tight Western conference playoff race. The Jets will be well rested, having been in Toronto the day before. Winnipeg will bring a high tempo to start the game, and will look to get the jump on a team they have owned, historically. The Jets have won the last five meetings between these two teams.
Special Teams advantage
The Maple Leafs are 10th in the League on the power play and ninth on the penalty kill. Compare that to the Jets’ 16th ranked PP and 19th ranked PK. The Leafs hold the upper hand on special teams. The Jets gave up three power play goals in their last game against Washington on Thursday. Being the better team should help Toronto get their first win over Winnipeg in six tries.
More ice time for younger players and Kessel breakout
Morgan Rielly continues to reach new career highs in ice-time with every game. With a focus on the future, look for some of the younger players to get more ice time as they try to lift the team out of its current funk. Phil Kessel has to break out of his current slump. Your best players have to be the best players and Kessel needs to bust out. Kessel has 30 points in 30 games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise.