The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in their first game back home after sweeping their western road trip (for the first time in over twenty years).
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in second place in the NHL standings with 28 points, having won six of their last seven games. The Leafs were briefly in first place in the standings after beating the Mighty Ducks (Emilio!!!) on Friday night. The Predators and Lightning have since passed them, however.
On a normal night, the Leafs could leapfrog these teams and get back into first place, if they both lost or didn’t play. Unfortunately, the Lightning and the Predators play each other, and are both tied one point ahead of the Leafs. That means that someone is going to finish the night with 31 points, and the Leafs, even if they win, will still be in second.
The Blue Jackets, however, are also a pretty good team and they have 26 points to lead the Metro division. For more on the Blue Jackets, here is site Editor Lansing Murphy from Union and Blue, the FanSided Columbus Blue Jackets site.
Union and Blue on the Blue Jackets v Leafs
I asked Lansing to give us some background on the Blue Jackets recent success
“The Jackets this year have had success because of their balanced scoring attack and Sergei Bobrovsky. Frederik Andersen and Bob are playing very well right now and is a huge part of both teams hot runs recently but the Jackets depth scoring can’t be undersold. The Jackets have a dominate top line with Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois, but they also have seven other players with at least 10 points. They are the only team in the NHL with that many players in double digits. Josh Anderson and Anthony Duclair are having exceptional seasons and I would expect one of those two players to pot a goal tonight.”
I asked him how the Blue Jackets will look to handle the Leafs
“The Jackets have the speed to keep up with the Leafs but I expect they will try and throw the Anderson-Jenner-Foligno line out against Tavares and Marner as much as possible. They won’t be as skilled but they can keep pace and with their physical play and rock solid defensive game, hopefully neutralize the Leafs biggest weapons.”
Finally, I asked him to tell us about a player that Leafs fans might not be too familiar with, that they should know about.
“Folks should get to know and keep an eye on Josh Anderson. The power forward is big, fast, and nasty. He already has eight goals this season, none of which have come on the power play. He is excellent defensively and isn’t afraid to chuck em. He has already fought Jamie Benn this year in Dallas and it was a heck of a heavyweight fight. The 24-year-old has also fought Zdeno Chara in his young career.”
The Blue Jackets have Zack Werenski and Seth Jones and both players are worth the price of admission. The Leafs are one of the NHL’s best teams, but there is no doubt that the Blue Jackets are right there with them, at least until Auston Matthews and William Nylander return.
With their two currently sidelined superstars in the lineup, no team in the NHL can counter the depth the Toronto Maple Leafs have at forward, and they are far and away the best team in the NHL. Without them, they’re keeping pace with the league’s best.
If the Leafs were ever going to lose a game, it’s after a road trip against one of the other powerhouse teams, but these Toronto Maple Leafs never do what is expected, so I predict they will win a high scoring affair 7-6.
Note that historically, all of my predictions are wrong.
Thanks for reading, and thanks especially to Lansing Murphy and Union and Blue.