Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Some smelly old place they named Joe.
Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet, Fox Sports Detroit, the home of Mickey Redmond (shut up, I like him) [Who? - Acha]
Opponent SBNation Site: Winging it in Motown. They’re sarcastic, don’t go there.
As a Red Wings fan I hate to admit how likable the Leafs have become. They’re incredibly young (nine rookies!), flashy, move the puck as good as any team in the league right now and they push “these kids like to have fun” past cliche. If I could make a comparison, they remind me of an NHL version of Team North America from the World Cup—they do have Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly who are both alums.
And now everything is just ruined! How can I make fun of them now? How can I chortle about them re-signing Thomas Vanek which would be hilarious if it happened. How can I laugh at Frans Nielsen’s contract? How can I make “keep the streak alive” jokes. How can I vent my spleen that a team I used to love (er, sorry) [Same. - Acha] has turned into this wretched crew of geriatrics older than the building they play in, slowly skating around the ice with less verve than Mickey Redmond at the alumni game? How?
Oh, and don’t go over there, they make the tired old “it was 4-1” joke and well, yawn.
Even so, even with that stupid old cliché, it’s hard to make fun of a team for having to waive Drew Miller to make cap space for Niklas Kronwall to come back off of IR when they are that nice. I want to mention that they have to use LTIR to clear the cap while they are in the big ball of more or less tied for last teams in the Atlantic, but now I can’t.
So fine, Red Wings fans, out nice the Canadians. Fine. It’s fine. Thank you kindly, even.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
Matt Martin - Frederik Gauthier - Nikita Soshnikov
Martin Marincin - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
Detroit Red Wings
(stolen without remorse from the nice Red Wings fans)
Petr Mrazek projected starter
The Leafs are on a back-to-back heading into the all-star break. They will likely play McE one of these games. Your guess is as good as mine which it will be.
Meanwhile, about that ball of teams more or less tied for last in the Atlantic. The Leafs, with as many as four games in hand on some of them, have 53 points and are white-knuckling their grip on a wildcard spot. Tampa Bay, Detroit, Buffalo and Florida all have 49 or 50 points. That is one very tightly packed division. The games in hand are the real difference, not the three points.
All of which is to say, good heavens, my predictions for this division were totally out to lunch. And I’m not going to claim to know how it will finish up. There’s hints in the standings numbers, but they are only hints, and regardless of the situation now, the only way to make the playoffs is to win more games than the other guys.
So, how about a win tonight, Leafs?