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FTB: The heat is turning up on the Maple Leafs

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The North Division’s mushy middle teams need wins badly, and the Leafs are on their menu.

NHL: JAN 26 Maple Leafs at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs will hit a milestone game at 20 tonight as the Calgary Flames come to town for a two game series. You will recall the last meeting between these teams was about four weeks ago and it resulted in Jack Campbell going off injured thanks to one Matthew Tkachuk.

Campbell is still not back from that incident, and I am sure many of the Leafs remember it well and who was responsible. However, in the interim weeks, the Flames have kind of fallen into a malaise. They’ve lost their past three games, and are drifting down the division standings. Suffice it to say, the Flames are desperate to break out here, and knocking the Leafs off their pedestal would be a big morale boost to their team. Expect a rough two games.

We’ll have a further preview of these two games with lineup updates out later this morning.

After the Flames, the Leafs end the week and the month starting a trip to Edmonton against the Oilers, another mushy middle team, but one that is on the way up the standings. They would love to take over as best in the division on Saturday.

This week could be really great for the Leafs, or really messy. It reminds me of the annual California road trip, which is often around this date in a regular 82 game season, and over the past few years those three games against the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks were often a reliable barometer that would confirm whether the Leafs would fall on the right side or the wrong side of the playoff bubble group. This time, it’s the other teams playing the Leafs that get that test.

While the Leafs play the Flames the Marlies will be playing the Heat in Calgary. They started their four game series last night with a big 7-1 win. Even Rich Clune got in on the scoring. Persistence in front of the net works wonders (also someone from the other team pushing you into the goalie).

ICYMI

Our podcast this week looked at Morgan Rielly and this future with the Leafs

Back to Excited Episode 132: Exploring a Morgan Rielly Trade - Arvind and Fulemin
Does it make sense for the Leafs to trade a star defenseman?

Other News

You can always count on David Pastrnak to have a great interview after a big win.

Exploring the prospects of a Filip Forsberg trade to the Leafs - MLHS
"Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are dominating. John Tavares isn’t getting any younger. The team hasn’t won a playoff round since 2004, a slump every Leafs fan on the planet wants to end this year. It’s time to make a move."

How Ray Whitney's 'Clean' Perspective Shapes the Department of Player Safety - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated
He logged more than 1,300 NHL games as one of the sport's classiest, most sportsmanlike players. Now, Whitney balances out the league's DOPS with his unique skill-player experience. He caught up with The Hockey News to discuss the highs and lows of his job.

Kaapo Kakko is Living Up to the Hype - Blueshirt Banter
It took a little while but the 20-year old winger is living up to expectations.

Poll

Will the Leafs still be first place in the North Division and the League at the end of this week?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    They’ll be first in both!
    (193 votes)
  • 34%
    First in the North, but not the League as a whole.
    (121 votes)
  • 10%
    This is going to be a long week....
    (38 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now

Oh, and the Habs lost to the Senators last night. LOLHABS!