The Toronto Maple Leafs have played two months of the NHL season. They’ve played those months very differently.
October was a great month for the Leafs. Even with the numerous problems in their game, there was enough positives to cancel out the negatives. Numerous players played well past their expectations, which pushed the Leafs even further. This all lead to a 10-4-0 record in the month of October.
November was a completely different story. All the positives disappeared and the negatives took over. The Leafs previously superb goaltending started to show cracks and the Leafs didn’t have enough offense to compensate. This lead to a disappointing 4-8-3 record in November.
With all of that accounted for, the Leafs record now stands at 14-12-3. The good news is that the strong start enabled the Leafs to escape November with a winning record. However, the bad news is what lies ahead in the month of December.
The Leafs competition so far has been made of mostly of teams that are well behind them in the standings. In December, that will not be the case.
In December, the Leafs opponents are as follows.
December 3 – vs. San Jose Sharks
December 5 – vs. Dallas Stars
December 7 – @ Ottawa Senators
December 8- vs. Boston Bruins
December 11 – vs. Los Angeles Kings
December 12 – @ St. Louis Blues
December 14 – vs. Chicago Blackhawks
December 16 – @ Pittsburgh Penguins
December 17 – vs. Florida Panthers
December 19 – vs. Phoenix Coyotes
December 21 – vs. Detroit Red Wings
December 23 – @ New York Rangers
December 27 – vs. Buffalo Sabres
December 29 – vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Of those 14 teams, only Dallas, Ottawa, Florida, Buffalo and Carolina have less points. Keep in mind that there is only one Western Conference team (Dallas) that has less points, so I wouldn’t that game to be an easy win.
Regardless, those five games are the must-wins of this month as every other team they face is a playoff team in the vastly superior Western Conference.
December could very well be known as the Leafs month from hell. In my opinion, if the better teams play like they are the better teams, the Leafs will be lucky to come out of it with a .500 record.
By the time December ends, the Leafs will have played more than half of their 82 games. How they come out of December could very well go a long way to determining how the Leafs finish at the end of the season.Sure, they’ll still have half a season left, but the better or worse the first half, determines what you need to do in the second half.
Leaf fans, if the last past three games have given you nightmares, the next month will be even worse if the Maple Leafs don’t clean up their act.
And once December ends, the Maple leafs will square off against the Red Wings in the 2014 Winter Classic. Tickets are still available so grab them now while you can!