3 important Leafs games to watch in the month of October
Photo credit:© Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The 2023-24 season is fast approaching and anticipation of getting to watch meaningful Leafs games continues to grow by the day.
While the ongoing preseason has certainly brought forth some intrigue, the games being played during that time have no consequence on the standings. Once things commence less than a week from now, that will quickly change.
For most hardcore fans of the sport, every single game is a must-see and none can be missed unless there are prearranged plans from beforehand. But the casual fans may choose to either tune in a handful of times or wait until the playoffs, so a regular season game has to have some significance or intrigue that will make them want to tune into that match more than any other.
That’s who these types of articles are meant for. This marks the beginning of a seasonlong series where we look ahead to the upcoming month and point out which three games of however many the Leafs play are worth dedicating your evening to above the others.
We begin with October and access which games we are most excited about for the opening month of the season.
October 16th – Leafs vs. Blackhawks
The short answer is Connor Bedard.
The long answer is the first overall pick of the 2023 NHL Draft has been garnering a lot of hype throughout the past few months as he has been showing flashes of his sky-high potential. A quick search of the NHL’s Twitter page shows that the league is recognizing the excitement and going all in on building up anticipation for his rookie campaign. The fact that a clip of a play of his that did not result in a goal still went viral should tell you everything about what the general public thinks of the Vancouver native.
Aside from Bedard, matchups between Toronto and Chicago always seem to be exciting regardless of where the two teams are in the standings. Part of it has to do with the fact these are two Original Six teams squaring off and part of it has to do with the fact that these matchups only happen twice a season. Look no further than last year when these two teams squared off twice in a week and each won on their respective home ice.
Seeing Bedard square off against the likes of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner is sure to bring forth some fireworks that will make the third game of the season a must-watch.
October 19th – Leafs @ Panthers
This game will mark the first time Toronto will face the team that was eliminated from the playoffs last spring, so it’s only natural that the initial rematch is going to have some intrigue.
Florida will likely not dress the same lineup that the Leafs saw back in May given that Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad will miss the first two months of the season. But even with the Panthers missing two of their regulars, this will mark the first chance to see how much of a difference the likes of Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Ryan Reaves would have in this matchup, even if the stakes are not as high as the previous encounter.
We could potentially be seeing the emergence of a new rivalry between two teams that will be in a battle for the Atlantic Division, so consider this game to be the appetizer before the main course.
October 28th – Leafs @ Predators
There will be a few games this month where they will square off against a team that has a former Leaf, but this one stands out because there are two such players that will be rematching against Toronto for the first time since the offseason: Luke Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly.
Schenn is fresh off his second stint with the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 2008 NHL Draft and his return was much more successful as he played a key role in getting the Leafs over the first-round demons. While the two parties expressed interest in an extension, Schenn priced himself out and got a big pay raise in Nashville.
By contrast, O’Reilly was Toronto’s big trade deadline acquisition who, alongside Noel Acciari, changed the dynamic of the middle-six the second he arrived. Despite missing some time with a broken finger, he was productive by scoring 11 points in 13 games along with nine points in 11 playoff games. There was hope he could stay in the offseason but O’Reilly opted not to stick around due to the spotlight and the bigger role that the Predators would provide him.
Regardless of how you feel about both players’ decision to leave the Leafs, there is going to be some intrigue with this matchup to get an idea of whether or not Toronto will miss them or be grateful they went a different direction.
Recent articles from Michael Mazzei