John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Week In Preview: Jan 12 - 18

The Toronto Maple Leafs have entered into yet another slump. After a stretch of games leading up to the Winter Classic that the Leafs looked really good in, they have now lost the last four games.

The Leafs are now entering a week in which they play four more games, with another back-to-back in the middle of the week. This will probably be said for every week left in the season, but this will be a very important week for the Maple Leafs.

After falling out of a playoff spot for the first time this season, the Leafs need to make ground and make up ground quick, as they have to worry about the teams behind them just as much the teams in front of them. This week gives them a good opportunity to make up ground in the Atlantic Division in particular, with three games being against teams in their own division.

Here it goes.

Sunday, January 12 – vs. New Jersey Devils

Tonight, the Leafs go up against one of the NHL’s best ever in Jaromir Jagr. At 41 years of age, he still continues to be a factor in the NHL. The Leafs will need to find a way to make him and the Devils’ other offensive threats non-factors.

Cory Schneider and Jonathan Bernier will be the starting goaltenders tonight. In terms of how they’re playing, they are heading in different directions. Schneider has won his last two games while Bernier has lost his last three. Bernier will have to be the better goaltender tonight to give them any chance of succeeding.

Tuesday, January 14 – @ Boston Bruins

The Leafs get another shot at redemption against the Bruins. Boston hasn’t been doing so well themselves lately, so if the Leafs can take advantage of that, they might have a chance.

That being said, Boston is always a team that gives the Leafs fits. They might not be the ‘Big, Bad Bruins’ anymore, but they are always a team to watch out for.

Wednesday, January 15 – vs. Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo finally has a new general manager in Tim Murray. Will the Sabres make any moves before Wednesday? Unlikely, but one can hope, right? The Sabres, worst in the NHL by far, have still managed to beat the Leafs in two out of the three games they’ve played against each other. What’s worse is the Leafs’ one win came in a shootout.

The Leafs need to beat teams like Buffalo if they want to be a successful NHL team. If they don’t, the could end up sharing the basement with the Sabres.

Saturday, January 18 – vs. Montreal Canadiens

If the Leafs can’t get up for this game, I don’t know what will. Hockey Night in Canada against the hated Montreal Canadiens, this is an opportunity for the Leafs.

This game will feature 11 future 2014 Olympians with Toronto’s three representatives and Montreal’s eight. As we get closer to the Olympics, these players will want to be at the top of their games. While it would appear that would give the advantage to the Habs, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk will be arguably the best two Olympians in the game whose last name is not Price.

Be sure to join us for tonight’s live game thread.

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