The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Qualifying Round.
With re-seeding in effect during these playoffs, there are a variety of scenarios for who the Toronto Maple Leafs might play against next.
This post-season will involve re-seeding with each round. So, for the sake of this specific analysis, it will be assumed that all four underdog teams will lose in their qualifying series. Toronto would then be the lowest-seeded Eastern Conference team remaining.
Potentially Predicting the Next Round
To be clear, this breakdown only exists if the teams that are ranked lower than the Toronto Maple Leafs all lose their Qualifying Round. If any of them win their initial series, it would directly affect the bracket match-up possibilities for the following round.
As a quick recap of the updated plan for these playoffs, the eight lowest-ranked teams within each conference will kick things off with a best-of-5 series.
There will also be a set of round-robin games for the top four seeds in each conference, wherein they play each other once to determine their seeding from that point forward.
Let’s take a look at who the Toronto Maple Leafs could potentially face if they are victorious against the Blue Jackets, while the Panthers, Rangers, and Canadiens are all knocked out, too. This would then result in an 8th versus 1st scenario for the next series.
The top four coming out of the East all present their own unique team strengths and tactics. They aren’t easy opponents. But would any be a better fit for who Toronto would want to face next?
Below is a summary of the head-to-head results between the Maple Leafs and each respective organization from this past season.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||3||2||1||0||0||4||.667||9||11||3.00||3.67|
Obviously, especially considering the parity in this league, anything can happen in the playoffs. A season series isn’t necessarily indicative of predicting outcomes throughout the post-season. However, there are still some valuable insights that can be deduced.
Although very different teams from the last time they met in the playoffs in 2017, it still seems the Maple Leafs would want to avoid having to see the Capitals next. Toronto only earned one point from their two meetings, while being limited to scoring six goals and letting in eight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to embrace an opportunity to face the Bruins sometime soon, so they can get past the hurdle Boston has presented in recent years. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. The Bruins went 2-1-0 against the Leafs this season, outscoring them 11-8 along the way.
What became an annual post-season rivalry between these teams throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, could re-surface. It would be far from their worst match-up, as they split their season series 1-1-1. However, the Flyers found the back of the net almost twice as often as the Leafs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Clearly a contender in recent years, yet Toronto found ways to fare well against their similarly skillful and speedy play. The Toronto Maple Leafs achieved a 2-1-0 record in three meetings. Toronto did fail to outscore this offensive Lightning lineup, but did enough to claim the season series.
Any of these teams pose a difficult match-up, especially after having to battle through a qualifying series just to get there in the first place.
But, if regular-season results present any guidance, Toronto should hope to avoid the Capitals and see the Lightning waiting for them instead.
The Toronto Mape Leafs will have to focus on beating the Columbus Blue Jackets before they can begin to think about what comes next. These teams went 1-1-0 this past season, with the Maple Leafs achieving the scoring advantage as they accumulated seven goals while only letting in five.