The Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders became rivals the day the Leafs stole John Tavares.
The rivalry was further cemented when the Toronto Maple Leafs fired Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders hired him.
Despite a bad roster made worse by bad trades (Toews) and inexplicable contracts (every one he signed), Lamoriello got the goaltending needed to take a bad team and make them look good, and while the Leafs simultaneously struggled, a lot of people had fun at their expense.
But the results were always incongruous with the way each team was ran and constructed, and time has shown the Leafs to be the super team and Kyle Dubas to be the far superior manager.
The Islanders will miss the playoffs this year, and with a nice bit of poetic justice, it was the Leafs who eliminated them.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders
Sunday saw the Leafs put forth their typical dominant performance, despite the absence of Auston Matthews.
No one seems to know how Matthews was injured, or what it is he hurt, since he finished the game in Ottawa, but did not suit up for Sunday’s match vs New York.
Though any injury to Matthews is concerning, it does appear to be just a case of the team being overly cautious.
In other, much more exciting news, the Toronto Maple Leafs won their 50th game for the first time in franchise history, which was great and everything, but just the fact that it took about a hundred years to accomplish what almost every other team already has, is a little depressing.
The Leafs also set their personal franchise record and now have 106 on the year, good for 3rd overall in the NHL.
The Leafs are off tonight, but will get back to it tomorrow against Philadelphia, then on Thursday they will have a chance to all but guarantee home ice advantage with a game against Tampa.
This is all great stuff, but with all anyone should care about right now is Auston Matthews. To repeat: Keefe did say that he would have played if it was the playoffs, and mentioned “an abundance of caution” which basically sounds about as good as such a situation could possible sound.
Matthews currently has 58 goals, and likely would easily have hit 70 if he had played every game, and might have flirted with 80 if not for his off-season wrist surgery. He is clearly the best hockey player in the world right now, and let’s just hope that he is healthy so that he can work towards matching his Hart and Rocket Trophies with a Stanley Cup.