The Vancouver Canucks play host to the high flying Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend and it would take a brave man to back against the visitors here. Toronto aren’t the complete outfit just yet but they are certainly up there with the strongest organisations in the NHL and we might be seeing the Maple Leafs, who are 2/1 with Betway for the Stanley Cup, competing in the postseason in 2018. With seven wins in their last 10 National Hockey League encounters, the Maple Leafs are trending in the right direction at the very least.
And then at the other end of the spectrum, we have Vancouver. Showing glimpses of talent isn’t really enough to succeed in ice hockey’s premier division and Canucks fans know it. For all their quality and impressive results on the odd occasion, Vancouver are prone to slipping up in easier fixtures. This is another stern test for the Canucks as they look to rebuild and mount a serious challenge in the Pacific Division. For now, they remain out of contention but a lot can change very quickly in the NHL.
Languishing in fifth spot in the National Hockey League’s Pacific Division, Vancouver are in contention but lack consistency – a real issue for the Canucks in modern times. They have been solid without being impressive and it would take a brave man to back Vancouver for the Stanley Cup this year. The Canucks are still a long way off challenging for silverware on the big stage; although their recent form has been positive.
KEY MAN: Henrik Sedin. The 37-year-old veteran may be in his twilight years but Sedin is showing next to no signs of slowing down just yet. Brock Boeser is now Vancouver’s top goal scorer this season but Sedin’s experience and knowledge of the NHL will help the Canucks in their pursuit of glory. Watch this space, he could still play a key role despite his advanced age – Toronto will be wary of another Sedin masterclass.
Toronto Maple Leafs
With seven wins in their last 10 National Hockey League appearances, Toronto are on the verge of something special. Auston Matthews is now back to full fitness after his injury woes earlier in the year and the Maple Leafs are VERY menacing on offense. Backing against the Maple Leafs here would be very foolish indeed; the form guide suggests that the visitors are capable of winning this one quite comfortably.
KEY MAN: Auston Matthews. An obvious pick but why would you look elsewhere? With 13 goals and 13 assists in just 23 appearances, Matthews averages over a point per game and it would be foolish to expect that trend to stop here. The Toronto star has flourished since he was selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft a few years back and he is only going to get better. Already widely tipped for individual accolades this season, Matthews will be keen to make another major impact for the Maple Leafs here.
Offensively, Toronto should have too much firepower for their opponents this weekend. On his day, Auston Matthews is unplayable and the Maple Leafs will be quietly confident of a fairly straightforward victory. The Canucks could spring a shock if at their very best but they will need Toronto to underperform – and underperform considerably at that. Watch this space, it could get very ugly for Vancouver very quickly if Toronto bring their A-Game.
CANUCKS 2-5 MAPLE LEAFS