Well it may not have been a pretty third-period but the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 3-1 win Saturday night against the New York Islanders and a home crowd that delivers more boos than an LCBO transit truck.
As bad as the game’s third-period possession numbers look for the Toronto Maple Leafs; however, the team did a solid job of limiting quality chances and scoring attempts and were able to come out with a valuable, hard-earned road win, buoyed by a dominant second-period that really showed how strong this Leafs team can be (how good does that third-line look??!).
The Leafs have 53 points and sit at an impressive 25-10-3. They are top-ten overall in just about every statistical category (all stats are from hockey-reference.com) but still can only claim the number 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, though they have about three games in hand, on average, on every team ahead of them. Six of the NHL’s seven best teams are from the Eastern Conference.
Yea, the East looks pretty darn good this year.
So in light of that, here is a breakdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs Eastern Conference competition and potential playoff meeting prediction:
Toronto Maple Leafs Eastern Conference Rivals
Boston Bruins (50 points)
Contrary to my outlook, the Ullmark-Swayman duo in net looks pretty solid. And for further insurance, Tuukka Rask was recently re-signed for one year at $1M. The Marchand-Pastrnak-Bergeron combination has done the most damage though. Brad Marchand has an absurd 20 goals in 33 games, David Pastrnak is on pace to score 41 and Patrice Bergeron continues to be an absolute all-around beast.
But the production quickly tapers off beyond these three and I still wonder about the center position after Bergeron.
Playoff Prediction: Leafs finally put the Bruins to ruins and take it in 5 (hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?)