If things continue as they are going, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top line of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and (tonight) Nick Foligno is going to spell trouble for Winnipeg Jets if (or when) the two teams meet in a playoff matchup this season. Connor Hellebuyck might be the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, but he can’t seem to find a way to stop the Maple Leafs’ top scorers.
Game after game, the Maple Leafs’ first line finds ways to beat the Jets. And, if Winnipeg meets the Maple Leafs in the playoffs and hopes to move past them into the final NHL’s four, the team is going to have to find ways to shut down this prolific group.
Even Without Zach Hyman, the First Line Was Rolling
As noted in the video, whenever the Maple Leafs and the Jets play, Toronto’s first line seems to have the upper hand. And, as noted in the interview, if the Jets run into the Maple Leafs in the playoffs, they will “need to figure out a way to shut down the Leafs’ top stars.”
As the interview suggests, even with a new member on that top line (Foligno) making his debut, “one thing held true – Austin Matthews is driving the bus for the Toronto Maple Leafs.” Add Mitch Marner, who contributed another multiple-point game, and the truth is “that line has been difficult to contain for the Jets in the season series.”
“Foligno “stepped right in and made an immediate impact, showing some physical play, chipping in an assist on an empty netter, and immediately earning the trust of Sheldon Keefe.”
How the Jets’ Plan to Shut Down the Maple Leafs’ First Line Failed
As the interview progressed, it was noted that “it looked like the plan to shut that line was going to be centred on third-line center Adam Lowry.” And, when the Jets lost him tonight after a hit by Alex Galchenyuk, it was a “really, really big deal.” That’s especially true if Lowry is injured and “on the shelf for any length of time.”
What Happens When the Two Teams Meet Again on Saturday?
In tonight’s game, as the interview suggests, “it looked like there was a bit of a goaltender’s duel brewing between Connor Hellebuyck and Jack Campbell.” However, it hasn’t turned out that way over the last two games. The game prior to tonight – which was the last time these two teams met, “Campbell was yanked from the game and then on Thursday night Connor Hellebuyck didn’t last very long.”
Hellebuyck had a tough night when he gave up three goals on six shots, with two of those goals coming from distance. As the interviewer noted, “It was clear that he (Hellebuyck) had an off night and those are very rare.” He went on to say that, what we’ve learned about Connor Hellebuyck is “his propensity to bounce back from rough outings.”
Jack Campbell Had His Best Game in a Long Time
On the other side, “in terms of the Leafs, Jack Campbell is really stabilizing things. Although he gave up three goals or more for a fifth consecutive game, he was there when his team needed him most and he delivered an important victory against a team chasing the Leafs for top spot in the North.”
Finally, the interview pointed to the fact that now the Maple Leafs at least have “a little bit of a buffer now being six points up, although the Jets do have one game.”
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