LGD: True North, False Idol

Leafs fans take a lot of criticism for putting up with a grotesquely rich ownership group that profits a lot off of their support of the team’s failure. Not just amongst those who have lost interest, but from other teams.

But hey, what about Jets fans? Since coming over from Atlanta, who won exactly zero playoff games in their eleven-year history, the Jets have been just as bad, making the post-season once and getting swept; the bright spot of their existence. Say what you will about the Leafs in 2013, but to collapse from 4-1 in Game 7, you have to win three games and be close to winning a fourth.

Yet, have the Jets been near the top of the merchandise rankings since before the team came back, they interrupt O’ Canada to profess their love for their ownership group. Every game. Home or away. Even at other levels; I’ve seen “TRUE NORTH” chants at Marlies games when they’d take on St. John’s (pre-team affiliation switcheroo).

If interrupting a moment of National Pride to scream the name of the people you give money to in support of a losing team isn’t a “hail corporate” moment, I don’t know what is. But hey, Jets fans are going to fill tonight their building, one that True North built a few thousand seats too small because they didn’t think Jets fans would show up. The Leafs will do their best to play spoilers.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs Lines via DailyFaceoff.com

The Leafs appear to be playing the same roster as they used against the Oilers, and can you blame them? The team played a quality game and received a more than favourable result, and with nobody getting banged up, there’s no reason to pull anybody out.

Sorry, Frank Corrado.

The Jets

Winnipeg Jets Lines via DailyFaceoff.com

This is your friendly reminder that a struggling team that plays in North America’s Siberia have a captain and a first pairing defenceman, both of whom probably miss winning Stanley Cups, who are unrestricted free agents in July. Next year, half of their forward core will join them.

Also, wearing #9 to replace Evander Kane is a guy with three points in 21 games and had his Hockey’s Future talent analysis led off by, I kid you not, “A successful football quarterback in high school”. Sounds promising.

Starting Goaltenders

It appears that both teams are going to be going with 22-year old goaltending prospects. Toronto will start Garret Sparks, while Winnipeg will start Connor Hellebuyck.

Here’s a tale of the tape between the two.

  • Sparks was taken in the 7th round of the 2011 Entry Draft.
  • Hellebuyck was taken in the 5th round of the 2012 Entry Draft.
  • Sparks has the second highest save percentage in North American Pro Hockey (ECHL+AHL+NHL) since the start of 2013/14, posting an absurd 0.936, trailing only Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Matt Murray.
  • Hellebuyck’s numbers are very impressive as well, but at 0.924, isn’t quite there.
  • InGoal Mag ranks Hellebuyck as the top goaltending prospect in the world. Sparks wasn’t ranked in their Top 50, or placed in their honourable mentions. 
  • Sparks’ had a 24 save shutout in his NHL debut this week. Hellebuyck stopped 14 of 15 shots in his debut.
Basically, we’re looking at two prospects with top end numbers who have slightly different reputations.

What To Expect

  • Dustin Byfuglien counting down the hours until he can head anywhere but Winnipeg (and Buffalo), and possibly challenging Garret Sparks to a burrito eating contest post-game
  • Kevin Cheveldayoff missing the entire game while lowballing the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic
  • Jets fans booing players for absolutely no reason
  • Roman Polak taking a dumb penalty
  • Frank Corrado being sad

What The Enemy Is Saying


Puck drop for this game, which you can tune into on Rogers Sportsnet, will be shortly after 7:30 PM.