Saturday is here, and it's time to watch some hockey! The Leafs sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 68 points, but it's by no means comfortable, nor should you expect it to be. The Leafs playoff fate will probably not be sealed until Game 82 one way or another, so be sure to tune in daily to these handy cheering guides that are fun and in no way disingenuous clickbait.
Without further ado, here's your slate of Saturday games:
While the teams behind Toronto are nipping at their heels, the teams ahead are giving them an opening. Montreal sits at 72 points after 61 games. A regulation win tonight would put Toronto two back of Montreal with a game in hand, while another regulation loss would make the Habs quite unlikely to catch.
CHEER FOR: The Leafs. Duh. Are you new here?
Columbus is in that tier of Metro teams all jockeying for playoff position that the Leafs needn't worry about, but the Islanders are tied in points (but behind in ROW) with the Leafs, so some breathing room would be nice.
CHEER FOR: The Blue Jackets in regulation. The Isles are a legitimate threat to the Leafs playoff hopes, while Columbus is a non-factor.
Stadium Series game! The Flyers have cooled off considerably and sit five points behind the Leafs with equal GP, but you don't want them getting too close for comfort. The more teams the Leafs can put some distance between, the better.
CHEER FOR: The Penguins to win in regulation. This, coupled with a Leafs win, would open a seven-point gap over the Flyers and ostensibly give Toronto one less team to worry about.
Buffalo Sabres @ Colorado Avalanche, 10 PM
The Sabres are six points behind the Leafs, but you don't want them creeping up any more than they have. The bad news is they play a Colorado team that may struggle to hit 50 points this season.
CHEER FOR: A rare Avalanche regulation win. While I'm not too worried about Buffalo, it's still best to keep them at bay. Also, how fun is it when really bad teams squeak out those rare wins? I mean, we were there once, too.
New York Rangers @ New Jersey Devils, 7 PM
The Devils are 8 points back of the Leafs, and have no real chance to make the playoffs barring an otherworldly hot streak. The Rangers are well ahead of the Leafs and are jockeying for playoff position within the Metro Division. Neither team will really have much of an impact on where the Leafs finish in the standings.
CHEER FOR: A Rangers win of any kind. It doesn't really matter since New Jersey is far enough back, but eliminating competition from a crowded playoff race is always good. Plus, the Rangers are a complete non-factor for the Leafs.
The Caps are well ahead of everyone else in the Eastern Conference, so they're really a non-factor to the playoff race. Nashville has no bearing on the Leafs whatsoever, being in the West and all.
CHEER FOR: A Predators win; nothing against Washington, but a win gets Nashville to 69 points. Nice.
Anaheim Ducks @ Los Angeles Kings, 4 PM
Western Conference matchup with no implications for the Leafs.
CHEER FOR: These teams to tire themselves out as much as humanly possible in advance of the Leafs playing them next week.
San Jose Sharks @ Vancouver Canucks, 10 PM
Hey; I'll be at that game! Also, mumps.
CHEER FOR: Everyone to play hard and have a fun time and get the proper vaccinations.