The North Division’s two best teams square off for the fifth time this Wednesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs (22-10-3) take on the Winnipeg Jets (22-12-2). The visiting Leafs will be betting favorites at -135 on the money line. But the series is tied with both teams having won two games each.
Just like the last game, I favor Winnipeg to get this one done and them being underdogs at +115 is icing on the cake. Both the Leafs and Jets are potent offensive teams, but Winnipeg has a couple of advantages.
Leafs’ Special Disadvantages
Time to hit the panic button? Things have been less than ideal in Leafs Land lately as Toronto has been in a slump with a 4-6-1 record in their last ten. That’s also 1-10 on the puck line, making them quite unbettable as favorites right now.
Despite the slide, the NHL odds are still liking Toronto thanks to maintaining positive 5-on-5 play and great goaltending from Jack Campbell. He’s filling in admirably for the injured Frederik Andersen (lower body) and is undefeated in the season with a 6-0-0 record and a 94.9 save percent (SV%) during even strength.
But what was once a strength for Toronto, the power play, has all but stagnated. The Leafs have one PP goal in their last eleven games. That’s one for 1-for-23 (4.3%). On the other end, they’ve given up eight. That’s why the Leafs are -6 in their last eleven.
Considering the Leafs are giving up between two to three PP’s a game, they should start tightening up here with their own PP being ineffective. But so long as they maintain solid 5-on-5 play, they’ll stay afloat.
Jets Gunning For Top Spot
It’s been a wild ride for Winnipeg, the NHL’s best betting team by far. Winnipeg has cashed on 28 of its 36 puck lines and has an even record as an underdog (13-11-2). The recipe for the Jets’ success has been explosive goal scoring and steady goaltending.
Oddsmakers continue to line Winnipeg as underdogs thanks to a paper-thin defense that allows 31.4 shots per game, the seventh-most in the NHL. Winnipeg usually finds itself being outshot by its opponents.
But thanks to G Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets usually overcome this. The defending Vezina winner is having another strong campaign and leads the league in saves at 799. His 90.8 SV% on scoring chances (85.5% on high danger chances) is a career-best.
On the flipside, Winnipeg is constantly scoring goals. They have the second-most goals in the division and are outscoring opponents 88 to 67 from the second period onwards (6-1 in overtime). Enjoy the Jets as they continue to score at will.
The odds are a bit off here. While I do think Toronto is the better team, I think Winnipeg has better than a 49% chance of winning this game. The Jets have proven they are the livelier and more opportunistic team than Toronto in their most recent win.
The Leafs will get Campbell in net, who could trump Hellebuyck or Laurent Brossoit. But Winnipeg also has an advantage on special teams and has been more consistent in scoring, especially in the third where this game could be decided.
As far as a pick goes, I’ll lean on Toronto. But we’re talking about bets here, so I’m all on board the Jets. Take Winnipeg to deliver another upset. If you’re feeling nervous, take them on the puck line at +1½.