The Winnipeg Jets are soaring.
Thought to be a fringe playoff team before the campaign started in October, the Jets have obliterated expectations through the first 45 games of the season and are now in the mix to win the Presidents’ Trophy.
Only the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks have a better points percentage than Winnipeg, which has used an 18-3-2 run since the start of December to vault itself to the top of the Central Division.
Winnipeg’s formula is not fluky, either.
The Jets are deep up front, play a structured game at five-on-five and have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL — Connor Hellebuyck — playing at an all-world level.
Throw in some clinical finishers and playmakers like Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele — who’s day-to-day but could return for this one — and you can see why the Jets look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender during this wide-open season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a different story entirely.
The Leafs were priced as one of the Stanley Cup favorites before the season but have been stop-start through their first 45 games.
Toronto’s defensive numbers have been pedestrian, there isn’t much scoring depth to this roster and the goaltending has been a carousel since Joseph Woll got hurt.
Betting on the NHL?
Auston Matthews’ heroics have kept the Leafs afloat, but there is a real chance that this team could be in danger of missing the postseason this spring.
Toronto is still a dangerous team, but the Leafs are reliant on their opponent making mistakes that they can capitalize on and that’s just not in Winnipeg’s DNA this season.
There will be a time to sell high on the Jets, but this isn’t it.
The play: Jets moneyline (+122, FanDuel)