The NHL and NHLPA signed a memorandum of understanding late Saturday night, officially ending the lockout and giving the green light to the regular season. Training camps open up on Sunday and 26 of the league’s 30 teams will be playing their opening game on Saturday January 19th. I took a look at the Maple Leafs schedule and although every game will be important in a shortened season, here are a few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 19 at Montreal – Opening night cannot come soon enough. What better way to kick off the season then to face your bitter rival on Hockey Night In Canada?
February 2 vs. Boston – This will be the Maple Leafs first game against the Boston Bruins on the season. The Maple Leafs have been dominated by the Bruins the last three years with a 6-12 record including a 2-7 record on the road. They went 0-6 last year against their divisional rival and lost by a combined score of 36-10. They will need to find a way to get something out of their four games against them if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs.
February 11 vs. Philadelphia – It seems like forever ago since the Maple Leafs and Flyers exchanged James van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn in the off-season. This will be the first time the two teams meet since that trade and it will be interesting to see how both players react to playing against the teams that drafted them.
April 27 vs. Montreal – The Maple Leafs finish off the season against the Canadiens on April 27th coming off a three game road trip against Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Florida. That road trip and this final game could possibly decide if the Maple Leafs make the playoffs or not.
It is worth noting that the Maple Leafs play the Canadiens and Senators five times each, while they only play the Bruins and the Sabres four times a piece. With the unbalanced divisional schedule this is the best the Leafs could have hoped four as the Bruins and Sabres are expected to be the top two teams in the division. They have also struggled against those two teams historically. They will play each of the other ten teams in the Eastern Conference three times to round out the 48 game schedule.
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