Expect a Toronto Maple Leafs backlash this weekend. After falling 3-2 to the Washington Capitals in front of a disappointed home crowd in their previous encounter, Toronto will be determined to get back to winning ways at the first time of asking.
With Mike Babcock strategically trying to cut down Auston Matthews’ ice time ahead of the NHL playoffs, Toronto will have a few strange results from time to time. Top spot in the Atlantic Division is out of the question and the Maple Leafs have one eye on the postseason.
Montreal suddenly find themselves just three points behind the Maple Leafs ahead of this weekend’s game. An intriguing affair awaits at Scotiabank Arena and the visitors will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds.
The Canadiens have won their last two regular season games, although they are winless in three successive road outings. Montreal have the chance to send out a statement of intent with a huge shock victory against a close rival. Write the road team off at your peril.
Prior to October 2017, Montreal had won the last 14 meetings between the two sides. Now, Toronto are on a six-game win streak against the Canadiens – will the Maple Leafs make it seven in a row or can Montreal buck the trend? Only time will tell.
Due Date: 24 February, 2019
Maple Leafs Must Snap Out Of Bad Habits
Now third favourites with 10Bet at 11/1 to win the Stanley Cup this year, Toronto’s poor run of form has punters hesitating ahead of the playoffs. The Maple Leafs have the quality but questions over their mentality remain – this is another stern test of Toronto’s credentials.
Babcock’s side had won four home games on the spin before losing to Washington and we should give Toronto the benefit of doubt. However, another defeat here will send warning signs flashing at Scotiabank Arena as we enter the business stage of the 2019 season.
The Canadian side have now lost three on the spin and that kind of form will not stick with Toronto fans. It isn’t time to hit the panic button just yet but supporters have queried some of Babcock’s decision making, especially when it comes to squad rotation.
Canadiens Destined To Be In Playoff Conversation
Montreal have gone about their business in recent months and the Canadiens have crept into the playoff picture. At this moment in time, you’d be hard pressed to back against the 24-time Stanley Cup champions as they look to secure a postseason berth.
Reaching the playoffs is an absolute must for the Habs as they look to build momentum for future years. Should they fail, it will mark the third time in four years with no NHL playoffs for Montreal and that may be enough to signal major changes in the organisation.
Two points here will see Montreal reduce the gap between themselves and Toronto to just one point – and the playoff picture will start to open up. Watch this space, we could see the Canadiens adopt an aggressive approach in a bid to put Toronto under pressure.
One moment could change Toronto’s season for the better and that moment could happen this weekend. The Maple Leafs need a confidence-boosting win and edging a tough contest against a playoff rival will give the entire franchise a lift.
Babcock has been using Matthews like most Stanley Cup contenders but Toronto need their key players for the time being. Once a postseason berth is secure, the Maple Leafs can think about rest. Now though, this is all about victory and it could be a nail-biting, high-scoring affair.
TIP: Over 6.5 goals
CORRECT SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Montreal Canadiens