The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
What was supposed to be a late season battle before the playoffs, will be more like a hard practice, thanks to the fact that the Montreal Canadiens are the first team eliminated this year from the NHL Playoffs.
They aren’t as bad as their record, but the Canadiens clearly used up all their luck beating the Leafs and going all the way to the Finals last season.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
The Leafs currently sit seven points back of the Panthers, are tied with the Bruins (though Boston has played an extra game) and one point up on the struggling Lightning, who have lost three in a row.
The Leafs are a solid 5-2-1 in their last eight, though they likely deserved an eve better record based on their play. They sit fourth overall in points percentage.
One thing I don’t think has gotten enough press this year is the Leafs ability to fight through injuries without it hurting their results. The Leafs started the season with Matthews on the shelf, and he and Tavares both missed some games early on. Ilya Mikheyev didn’t play his first game until December 14th, by which time Mitch Marner was out with an injury.
Marner came back in the same game that Muzzin got his first concussion, while Liljegren, Engvall, Mikheyev, Kase, Liljegren, Holl and Sandin all missed games during the stretch between Muzzin’s concussions.
Jack Campbell played injured for over a month before taking some time off and not playing since march 10th. Campbell and Muzzin remain out, while Sandin was recently injured long-term.
Overall, the Leafs have played only one or two games all season with a full – or reasonably full – lineup. The fact that they are in fourth place overall despite never really being healthy for any stretch of time is quite impressive.
That they have outperformed their goaltending for so long and by such a large margin is equally impressive.
With Mark Giordano in the lineup and Jack Campbell due back next week, things are starting to look great for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Their playoff opponent is likely going to be Tampa or Boston, but there is at least a 25% chance that it’s Carolina, Pittsburgh, New York or Washington. Either way, I firmly believe this is the year where the Leafs lay their demons to rest and dominate the NHL postseason.
Do we really think players like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are incapable of post-season dominance? We must remember that if those two had done even 10% of their regular season work in the last 12 playoff games, the Leafs would be the winners of multiple series.
The Leafs take on the Canadiens tonight, and the playoffs are just over a month away.