Toronto Maple Leafs to Play the Ghost of Christmas Future

Lou Lamoriello, General Manager of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lou Lamoriello, General Manager of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the New York Islanders today.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are fifth in the NHL by points-percentage, and the Islanders 21st.

Several years ago, according to legend, a ghost visited Brendan Shanahan in the night and showed him what his future would be like if he stuck with Lou Lamoriello and let Kyle Dubas sign in Colorado.

Among the visions of hell bestowed upon Shanahan that night were Leafs Captain Matt Martin, signed to a CBA defying 34 year contract; William Nylander traded for Nick Ritchie; and Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Morgan Reilly all playing for other teams.  Ben Chiarot was the captain, and the team’s #1 defenseman was Ron Hainsey, who refused to retire.

Shocked by the horror of it all, Shanahan woke up with the smell of napalm in the air and immediately fired Lou.  Again, according to legend.  Every day since then has been a confirmation that he made the right choice.

While the Leafs have essentially already clinched a playoff spot (they have a nine point lead on Detroit as well as four games in hand), the Islanders are wondering if they’ll win the NHL draft lottery.  The mess that are today’s Islanders is exactly what the Leafs would have if not for Shanahan’s prophetic dream all those years ago.

How bad of a GM is ex-Leafs Lou Lamoriello? So bad that the Islanders can’t even parlay the second-best 5v5 save percentage in hockey into a winning record.

The Islanders Cap-Friendly page reads like a criminal indictment of Lou Lamoriell, and while it’s still amusing that he was voted as GM Of the Year in order to troll the Leafs, the fact is that the Pro-Lou segment of the Leafs fan base are now running neck and neck with the Anti-Nylander people for the Worst Take In Leafs History award. (The people who thought Jake Gardiner should be a forward are a distant third).

This award will be handed out in June after Auston Matthews puts down the Conn Smythe trophy.

And yes, I acknowledge that the Islanders have won five playoff rounds since the Leafs made this decision, and that the Leafs have won zero.  During all three seasons, the Leafs had the superior team and roster, and were victims of bad luck, while the Islanders were extremely lucky at times.  Both teams won the same amount of Stanley Cups, and the NHL playoffs are bordering on random.

Now on to tonight’s Game:

Toronto Maple Leafs vs the Islanders

The Leafs will be without Jake Muzzin, and Justin Holl again tonight, which isn’t good news at all. Despite a rough start to the season (that people can’t seem to let go) the Leafs shut-down pairing has been good enough to propel the team to the best two-month run in team history.

While Sandin and Liljegren were on the ice for three goals on Wednesday vs the Rangers, I think they got unlucky.  I’m not saying they didn’t have a few bad plays, but they weren’t so bad that Jack Campbell can be excused for only having a .700 save percentage while they were on the ice.

Sandin was over 50% expected-goals, while Liljegren was nearly at 60%.  (stats

Bottom line: they weren’t the problem, and even if they were, judging them on one game would be dumb.

The Leafs will swap out Alex Biega for Carl Dahlstrom, Petr Mrazek for Jack Campbell, and Joey Anderson for Kyle Clifford, but mostly they’ll be going with the same lineup as they used to face the Rangers.

The Leafs will be in tough against an Islanders team that has won three in a row, but honestly, the Islanders are terrible and even a medium effort by the Leafs should be enough to get the win tonight.

Next. Most Likely to Get Traded. dark

The Islanders barely have an answer for William Nylander, let alone Tavares, Marner or Matthews.  Look for the Leafs to exercise their frustration at their recent bad luck, and run up the score.  I predict an 9-1 victory.