Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Time: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Clinched Arena
Opponent SB Nation Site: Canes Country
The Leafs have clinched, and they will play the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
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Does anything more need to be said? Who cares about these last three games? The Leafs are in! They are locked in to playing the Bruins.
Well, yes. There’s a few things to talk about, but, first, here’s the projected lines for tonight.
Lines are from last night’s game, subject to revisions at morning skate.
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Kasperi Kapanen - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Trevor Moore - Frederik Gauthier - Tyler Ennis
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Travis Dermott - Nikita Zaitsev
Calle Rosen - Martin Marincin
Garret Sparks (presumed starter)
Lines are from the Hurricanes’ last game, subject to revisions at morning skate.
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Justin Williams
Andrei Svechnikov - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Micheal Ferland - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Warren Foegele - Greg McKegg - Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Goaltenders (starter to be confirmed)
The Hurricanes are trying to win their way in to the playoffs. They sit in the bottom Eastern Conference Wild Card slot right now, one point ahead of the Canadiens. The Canadiens are playing the Lightning tonight and, assuming they lose—because no one beats the Lightning this season except the Leafs that one time—it would be a pretty big deal for the Canes to get this win, or even the point in an OT loss. It would put the Habs on the brink of elimination.
That being said, the Leafs don’t want to gift the Canes a win. The Leafs still have a shot at getting the home-ice advantage against the Bruins if they win all three games left in the season, including tonight. I think everyone would agree it’s preferable the Leafs start the playoffs here at Scotiabank Arena rather than at the TD Garden. TD’s fees are so high.
On the other hand, the Leafs have clinched the playoff spot, and the scenario where the Leafs can pass the Bruins in the division rankings is pretty unlikely. If they lost tonight and it eventually caused the elimination of the Habs would you be mad about that? And is there any team which has been made more sympathetic that you would want to have in the playoffs this season over that “bunch of jerks” on the Hurricanes?
Seriously, I don’t think I mind what is the outcome tonight. We have the X, so let us simply have faith that the hockey universe will unfold as it should.