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Who would be the Maple Leafs playoff opponent?

Who’s their opponent? Would another format be better?

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning
That’s not good.
Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to make the 2022 NHL Playoffs. That is pretty much a given right now, barring major injuries and a complete collapse of the team which, come on. What are the odds?

Once again we’re at the point in the season where we begin looking at who their potential opponents could be, where they may land in the standings, and whether the popular argument of the playoff format is making life hard for the Leafs, rather than the Leafs making it hard on themselves.

So, let’s pull up the NHL standings and see who the Leafs play in what scenario.

Divisions + Wild Card

Points opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning (Away)
Points %: Tampa Bay Lightning (Home)

This is our current playoff format, and with the Florida Panthers hanging on to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, it doesn’t matter if we use Points or Points Percentage to sort things out, the Maple Leafs end up with the current Stanley Cup champions as their opponent.

Right now, switching between the two ways to sort the standings in our loser point world, the only change in outcome is who is the home team? The Lightning at the hosts it as is, but the Leafs have four games in hand a slight edge in points percentage so they have home ice measuring that way.

Divisions Only

Points opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning (Away)
Points %: Tampa Bay Lightning (Home)

Some people dislike the wild card but do like divisional playoffs, but going top 4 per division doesn’t change anything for the Leafs vs Lightning. It actually doesn’t change anything at all in the east as the Panthers would play the Boston Bruins either way.

Former Conference (1-8 only / Div leaders 1+2)

Points opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning (Away)
Points %: New York Rangers (Home)

This covers both scenarios were the conferences are sorted 1-8, and the old scenario of giving the division leaders the top spots. It’s the same results either way.

Hey look nothing changes when we sort by points yet again! I hope the Leafs are studying up on the Lightning. We do get a new opponent when we sort by points percentage though, the New York Rangers! In this scenario the Maple Leafs are 3rd in the conference, so they play the #6 Rangers. The Maple Leafs have six game sin hand on the Rangers, and New York has four more losses keeping things close between the two.

Seed all teams 1-16

Points opponent: St. Louis Blues (Home)
Points %: Vegas Golden Knights (Home)

This has always been my preferred playoff method. If the top 16 teams make the playoffs, there’s no whining about teams missing because of a bad format, and none of the top eight teams end up playing each other. The QMJHL used to do this for their playoffs, but they found the #16 seed never won a game in this format.

Points wise the Maple Leafs are 6th in the league with 59, and they would play the St. Louis Blues who are 10th with 57. This would be a throwback to when the Leafs were a Western Conference team, though I doubt it would turn into an old Norris Division playoff series despite Jordan Binningtons wishes.

I wouldn't mind Auston Matthews decapitating Binnington with a slapshot.

Sorting by points percentage, the Maple Leafs are 4th overall and would host the 13th overall Vegas Golden Knights who are still a good team, but they aren’t the Lightning thank God.

Poll

What is your preferred playoff format?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Wild Card
    (39 votes)
  • 5%
    Divisional
    (37 votes)
  • 50%
    Conference 1-8
    (324 votes)
  • 37%
    League 1-16
    (245 votes)
645 votes total Vote Now

Essentially, all I did here for you was save you the time of sorting the NHL standings, but I do it for myself all the time so why not write it down and share it.

So what does this mean?

The Atlantic Division is too good, and we all better hope Andrei Vasilevskiy forgets how to play goal.