Leafs look to extend win streak to three in potential round one preview
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Brian Reid1 year ago
As the regular season winds down, the Toronto Maple Leafs head to Montreal to face off with the Canadiens in what could potentially be a late season playoff preview.
The Leafs have rebounded nicely from their five game losing skid, with Jack Campbell quietly reestablishing himself and allowing the team in front of him to sweep the Winnipeg Jets in a brief two game set that saw the Leafs all but extinguish any hope the Jets had of taking the top spot away from them. The Leafs currently sit at 65 points through 48 games, seven up on the second place Edmonton Oilers (who overtook Winnipeg with a 6-1 win Monday night.)
Montreal meanwhile, despite once being labelled as juggernauts who would surely challenge for the top spot in the North, have seen mixed results throughout the season, leading to a slide down the standings heading into the final stretch that saw their playoff hopes begin to dwindle. Never the less, despite dropping two of their first three to Calgary in the last week, Montreal managed to hold on to a close 2-1 victory Monday night, moving the Habs to six points clear of the Flames for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Though neither team has absolute certainty about their final spot in the standing just yet, there is a strong possibility we are headed towards a Toronto/Montreal opening round, a playoff matchup not seen since 1979 when the Montreal Canadiens swept the Leafs in the quarterfinals en route to their 22nd Stanley Cup.
An already fierce rivalry, the matchups have been amplified this year in the context of the North Division, with many games having already carried the feeling that they were merely setting the scene for a much grander battle to come. With four games remaining against each other on the regular season schedule and a first round matchup looking likely, look for both teams to go out and try to establish themselves early for when the games truly start to count.
Tale of the Tape
Toronto Maple Leafs
Leafs Starting Goalie: Jack Campbell
Campbell has had a solid couple of games following a rough stretch that made many Leafs fans forget about his historic start to the season, posting a .936 across the Leafs two game sweep of the Jets last week. With Andersen looking to make a return to the Leafs lineup before the playoffs, Campbell may need to keep that streak of strong performances rolling in order to secure the starting job for the postseason.
Canadiens Starting Goalie: Jake Allen
Like Campbell, Allen had a rough few outings before righting the ship in his more recent appearance. After a 1-2 run that saw him fail to record a save% above .900, Allen stopped 21 of 21 shots Monday night in a crucial game against the Flames. With the playoffs not a certainty and Carey Price still recovering from a concussion suffered in a game against the Oilers, the Habs may need Allen to perform to his early season levels that saw many clamoring for him to take the reigns from the longtime starter.
Coverage of tonight’s game begins at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sportsnet
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