Toronto Maple Leafs Clinch First Division Title In 21 Years

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: Corey Perry #94 of the Montreal Canadiens watches an incoming shot against Jake Muzzin #8 and Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: Corey Perry #94 of the Montreal Canadiens watches an incoming shot against Jake Muzzin #8 and Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 last night to win their first division title in 21 years.

A Sundin-led 100 point team in 1999-2000 was the last time that Toronto Maple Leafs fans could celebrate this achievement.  Prior to that, their last division win was in 1962-63.  This was only the second time since NHL expansion that the Leafs have won their division.  So yes, this is cause for a celebration, and I don’t care one bit that it was in a weird season that was dictated by a pandemic.

Montreal played a solid 1st period and took a 2-0 lead early in the 2nd, but the Leafs took control midway through the period and scored 3 straight goals to get the win.  After letting in a questionable goal to go down 0-2, Jack Campbell came up big on several occasions to give the Leafs a chance to win the game.  He just seems to tell the team “hey, if you can score 3, I got you”.  And they did.

Campbell is now 17-2-2 with a GAA of 2.11 and a .923 SV%.  I’m not sure what the Leafs are doing with Andersen right now, but Campbell is starting in the playoffs.  The only way another goaltender gets a sniff is if he drastically under performs.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Division Winners

The Leafs finished their 10 game set against the Habs going 7-3.  With a first round match-up a real possibility, you have to think that the Leafs have been able to get inside the heads of le blue blanc et rouge…just a little.  I know, I know, the Habs have been without Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price, but still, doubt must be creeping in.  The good guys seem to have their number.

The biggest difference between this team and last year’s team?  Defense.  A lot of context is needed to evaluate defensive impact.  It’s tougher to gauge.  But I will sum it up very simply, last year’s GA average of 3.17 ranked 26th and this year the team is ranked 8th with 2.64.  That statistic has provided this team the consistency necessary to win the division.

Wayne Simmonds was physical.  Really physical.  Like the playoffs started last night physical.  He was only credited with 4 hits, but they were the kind that hurt and establish a presence.  He has been playing a little bit “lite” since returning from his broken hand and this tells me that he’s healthy and ready to go.  Good news for the Leafs, bad news for whoever they play in the 1st round.

John Tavares now has 21 points in his last 17 games.  The guy has been reliable defensively and provided leadership all year long, and after a slow start offensively he now has 49 pts in 54 games.  He also has a GF% of 57.38, xG% of 56.44, and HDCF% of 57.67 (via  Not bad for a guy that plenty of people were criticizing early.  When you make $11 million, you are open definitely open to criticism, but JT has looked just fine for weeks now.

Justin Holl played a very solid game.  This is noteworthy because he has not played many solid games lately.  Jake Muzzin has really carried him for some time now and it was nice to see him back to his old self, breaking up plays with his stick and being physical along the boards without turning the puck over.  The Leafs need him to perform like a #4, and he did that last night.

Ben Hutton played 15:34 last night and didn’t look out of place.  He had a physical edge to him and made the plays he’s supposed to make.  He was playing in place of Rasmus Sandin and is proving to be a nice depth addition to the blue line.

The decision to sit Sandin was due to salary cap implications.  Apparently the Toronto Maple Leafs are attempting to get Andersen into an NHL game before the end of the season and need to move money around if they are going to make that happen.

I don’t agree with this move as I don’t see what Andersen can possibly provide at this point in a year like this.  He hasn’t played an NHL game since March 19th, and quite frankly he hasn’t been very good when he did play.

Sandin has only played 9 NHL games and has missed a lot of hockey, if Keefe plans on playing him in the playoffs he should be playing him now.  The kid needs to ramp up his game and continue feeling comfortable.  I know Rittich has not been very good as a Leaf so far, but his career numbers are ok and he was good in his last start vs. Vancouver.

I think gambling on Andersen as the #2 is a huge risk at this point, and I don’t see the benefit of sitting Sandin in order to take that risk.

Roster Updates 

Zach Hyman and Riley Nash are both skating with the team but have not been cleared for contact.  I know they would like to get Hyman into a game before the playoffs start but Nash may have to sit out do to cap complications.

Nick Foligno has skated for two straight days now and is still listed as DTD. Zach Bogosian is progressing, but he is not ready to return to the ice yet.

The reality is, partly due to salary cap restraints, we aren’t going to know the playoff roster until the day of the first playoff game.  I imagine that the roster will still have a lot of moving parts in the throughout the first round, no matter who they play.

Next. 3 Reasons the Leafs Will Win the Cup. dark

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and especially to those who are members of Leafs Nation.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the North.  Now it’s time to win much more than that.

Go Leafs!