The Toronto Maple Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division.
With 24 points in 18 games, the Toronto Maple Leafs are second to the Tampa Bay Lightning who have 25 points.
Like the entire NHL, the Atlantic Division Standings are kept artificially close by the ridiculous points system that the NHL uses. With some games being worth three point, even the completely terrible Detroit Red Wings – arguably the worst team in the NHL – are only six points back (three games, if you think about it in baseball terms).
For example, just look how stupid this is: The Leafs are 12-6 and the Red Wings are 8-10. The Leafs have won 66% of their games, while the Red Wings have lost more than they have won. But because they were credited with the equivalent of a win for losing two games in OT, they could tie the Leafs if each team went on a corresponding three game winning/losing streak.
This despite the Leafs being 3rd in the NHL while Detroit is 22nd.
The Atlantic Division
The importance of winning the Atlantic Division cannot be overstated. The Leafs, Bruins and Lightning are there of the NHL’s best teams, and because of the way playoff seeding is done, two of these teams most likely will have to play each other in the first round of the Playoffs.
It’s unfair and stupid, but that’s the way it is. Therefore, playing a wildcard team is preferable than a first round matchup that, theoretically, could be a better series than the eventual Stanley Cup Final.
Currently, the Leafs and Lightning have the same record, but the LIghtning have an extra point because they managed to lose one of their games in OT. They’ve also just lost their starting goalie Andre Vasilevskiy with a fractured foot.
This could be a great opportunity for the Leafs who should have Matthews and Nylander coming back anytime now. The Leafs are keeping pace with Tampa and are ahead of Boston, despite missing two of their best players for almost the who season so far. This bodes extremely well for the rest of the season.
Adding two elite players to what is already one of the best lineups in the NHL is going to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a huge advantage, and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
As to the rest of the Atlantic, it’s nice to see Buffalo and Montreal coming along. The NHL is better when the Leafs two biggest rivals ice actual NHL teams, which they have not been doing recently.
The current standings have them only two and three points back of the Leafs, but again, they’re all chalked up with loser points, and both teams are probably playing a bit over their heads. Technically, Montreal is only a .500 team anyways.
It would be nice if one of those teams could somehow pass the Bruins and make the first round a little less treacherous, but over the full course of a season I do not expect it to happen.
We shall see, however.