Possible Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Opponent: The Carolina Hurricanes
Regular Season Record: 43-15-7 (3rd)
3.31 Goals per game (8th)
33.9 SOG per game (9th)
25% on PP (5th)
2.37 Goals against per game (1st)
28.7 SOG against per game (2nd)
89.2% on PK (1st)
The Carolina Hurricanes sit atop the Metropolitan division , and if the Leafs were to fall into a wild card position they could find themselves escaping the Atlantic division. While this may seem ideal at first, the Carolina Hurricanes would not be an easy first round match up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, though it would be an interesting one.
The Leafs and Hurricanes swapped goaltenders this past off season, with Petr Mrazek jumping ship to Toronto and Frederik Andersen signing in Carolina.
Leafs fans are well aware of Andersen’s shortcomings in the postseason, and would hope that trend continues in a possible seven game series against Freddy. This season Toronto and Carolina have already played three games this season with the Leafs taking two of the three. Freddy Andersen was in net for all three meetings and fared well enough, but the playoffs bring a whole new level of nerves.
Regardless of all of Andersen’s history in the playoffs, the Hurricanes are a formidable opponent, and one that Leafs nation should be hoping to avoid.
Carolina ranks at or near the top of the league in almost every category, defensive or offensive. Carolina is also the only other team in the league other than the Toronto Maple Leafs that ranks in the top 5 in both power play and penalty kill efficiency. So while it would be nice to escape the Atlantic division, I believe that it would be more advantageous for the Leafs, even if dropping to the wild card, to stick within their own division.