Around the North: Leafs rule supreme, Canadiens haven’t realized who their best goalie is, and a wild Dubois appears
By Jon Steitzer1 year ago
It’s been well established that Toronto is the center of the universe, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are Canada’s team. This we know. And with the Leafs sitting at the top of the Scotia North Division, Canada is getting exactly what it wants and deserves. While we spend a lot of time talking about the Leafs on this site, largely because it is a Leafs site, we’re going to take a look at what’s going on with the other, unarguably lesser teams around the division and assess their current state of affairs.
The Canadiens received the great honour of being visited by the Leafs last night, so they are a pretty easy team to recap. They’ve received a bunch of deserved and undeserved hype this year by bringing in Tyler Toffoli, and finally having a prospect pan out, as Nick Suzuki (noted Leafs fan) is alarmingly useful. The Canadiens have also benefited from a schedule that featured a number of games against the Canucks, and as the Leafs recently demonstrated, that’s an easy way of establishing an impressive win total. Like the Leafs they split their games against Ottawa, but unlike the Leafs they had no trouble beating up on the two trick pony Oilers.
It should also be noted that the Habs did the Leafs a favour by dressing “Best Goalie in the World” Carey Price last night, and his .899 save percentage (now .896 sv%) instead of Jake Allen who is sitting a .940 save percentage. Hopefully they make the same mistake on Saturday night.
The airportless wonders have been holding their own despite awaiting Pierre-Luc Dubois to come out of quarantine. Now that he’s joined the team the Jets might make a strong case for challenging Montreal as they have a good goaltender that actually goaltends well. The Winnipeg blueline still provides peace of mind for Leafs fans, as a Matthews vs. Derek Forbort matchup is a wonderful dream.
If the Oilers played every game against the Ottawa Senators they just might be a threat to win the division. And congrats to them for solving the team most likely to be drafting first overall, and I mean that, Ottawa has somehow stymied the Leafs and Canadiens.
The Oilers have recently celebrated two things, the return of Mike Smith, and their first win without a point from Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl since 2017. I’ll let you decide which one of those things is sadder.
Thankfully Oilers fans aren’t concerned with things like winning games, making the playoffs, or forming coherent thoughts. All that matters is that McDavid and Draisaitl continue to run up their point totals. Apparently the Art Ross is their Stanley Cup.
The Leafs might be some of the few people that actually enjoy beating Calgary. The two wins the Flames provided the Leafs with certainly made them feel welcome.
The Flames are gaining some attention for having Sam Bennett on the trade market at the moment, and while there is certainly interest from Leafs fans and possibly the Leafs themselves, it’s hard to imagine a deal being possible.
The Flames like the Oilers have a .500 point percentage, but in fewer games, so that probably means there’s more hope for them than their Northern neighbours, and things are looking up for them now that Matthew Tkachuk is getting over his traumatic incident with Jake Muzzin.
It seems that Vancouver games might be a favourite for the Leafs this season. With nothing resembling passable goaltending, a blueline with a regressed Quinn Hughes, and a forward group that the Leafs were comfortably matching their fourth line against throughout the three game series, it’s hard to imagine the Canucks being much worse. The fact that it is up to Jim Benning to fix them is an added bonus.
It’s entirely possible that Elias Pettersson remembers how to hit the net at some point and teams will have to deal with an offensive threat on Canucks, but for now we can enjoy that Jim Benning is trying to sell off his bottom six garbage will remaining clueless about how to fix the real issues with the team.
Let’s start with the pros for the Senators. All their new jerseys look really nice and they seem to have built their entire team identity around being hard for the Leafs to play against.
The cons for the Senators are that even when they’ve tried playing the Leafs hard they’ve only had a 50% success rate, and they are getting run over by everyone else in the process. The future stars that ownership has tried to sell their fans on are simply not panning out to the leave that they need to be at, and they appear to be destined to sit at the bottom of the league until the next generational talent is available in the lottery. By the time that happens, who knows if they’ll still be in Ottawa.
I guess they can take comfort in the fact that Zaitsev will still hilariously burn the Leafs, but other than that, they remain the saddest sacks in the NHL, which is remarkable for a league that includes Detroit.
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