Toronto Maple Leafs Look to Perform Playoff Exorcism for Devils

Colin White/Martin Brodeur
Colin White/Martin Brodeur / Rick Stewart/GettyImages

The NHL schedule must really have it out for the Toronto Maple Leafs who have to play their final six games across just ten days.

But whining aside, the Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the New Jersey Devils tonight after beating the Penguins last night.

The Penguins were the better team, but the Leafs pulled out the victory regardless. The Leafs also got lucky that a skate issue kept Sidney Crosby off the ice in overtime and they were able to score before he got off the bench.

Samsonov was great last night, but it's a back-to-back so Joseph Woll will be in net tonight.

With a win tonight the Leafs could pretty much elimnate the Devils from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Devils can still get to 87 points, but it would only be 85 if they lose tonight. The Islanders already have 85 points while Pittsburgh and Detroit are sitting at 84 and Washington at 83. Both Detroit and Washington play each other tonight, so although NJ holds the tie-breaker over Washington, if New Jersey loses to Toronto they are essentially out. According to moneypuck, the Devils playoff chances are already under 1%.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils

The Leafs are playing for home-ice and while a lot of people have suggested that isn't a big deal, I think it's a massive deal. The Panthers and Leafs are almost certain to play each other, and these are two teams that are practically equal.

The Leafs have way better forwards, but Florida has the advantage in both net and on the blue-line. The Leafs outplayed them last year, but lost because Sergei Bobrovsky was playing out-of-his-mind.

That isn't likely to repeat itself, but the Panthers vs Leafs is a coin-flip. Either team could win, and no team has the advantage. That means home-ice and last change will decide who is the favorite, and that makes it a big deal.

The Leafs are three points back of Florida right now, with a game in hand. The two teams also meet a week from tonight.

The Leafs can't look past this game even though the Devils are pretty bad, and even though they won't have Jack Hughes in the lineup.

The second game of a back-to-back with travel is almost always a loss, so Joseph Woll could do wonders for himself tonight with a strong game. I wouldn't call it a "must win" but it's close because home-ice advantage in the first round is likely the difference between making it to the second round or going golfing.

The Leafs have opened up a six point lead on Tampa so that means they are pretty much good to go - barring a complete collapse - and will avoid the Wild Card. Boston only needs 2 points (or 2 points lost by the Leafs) to make it so Toronto can't win the Atlantic, so that's also out.

It's pretty much like 99.9% that the Leafs play Florida, with the only realistic variation that Florida could still technically catch Boston and force the Leafs to play the Bruins. A Boston win and a Florida loss tonight wouldn't make it official, but would pretty much guarantee a Leafs vs Florida series.


But, first thing's first - beat the Devils.