We are not even a full week into the 19/20 season and there’s already a mouth-watering amount of action to slide into after the Toronto Maple Leafs have put to bed their first four games. With a 2-1-1 record to start the long season ahead, the Leafs’ season is in full-swing and there is a handful of talking points despite the scarcity of games so far.
Regardless of how you slice it, netting five out of six points to the start of the season is a win in any teams’ books. It was an electric night at the Scotiabank Arena, with the Leafs firing on all cylinders in their curtain-raiser — after dispatching rivals — the Ottawa Senators 5-3 with a solid opening victory.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but a win nonetheless to give the fans of Toronto a glimpse of their team’s emerging potential. The Leafs found themselves a goal down after the Senators scored 25 seconds into the game, but the Buds maintained their composure after this disappointing start and closed out a victory at the end of the evening to secure those crucial two points.
Any ice hockey outfit stepping on the ice in their opener of the season is never going to showcase a perfect game and Toronto certainly revealed some chinks in their armour. Even though some sloppy plays manifested, there was plenty of positives to take away from this game, however, with Auston Matthews getting off to a red-hot start once again, Rasmus Sandin and IIya Mikheyev getting their first NHL points and a feel-good win for the team.
Next up, it was a trip on the road to the Nationwide Arena to go toe-to-toe against a slightly more menial side, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Toronto made sure they took care of business by closing out a 1-4 win, with Mitch Marner and John Tavares assigned to do the heavy lifting, with the pair finding perfect synchrony and Marner finding the back of the net twice.
Auston Matthews and defencemen Cody Ceci also got their names on the scoresheet with some silky puck movement to sink the Blue Jackets. Back-to-back wins are a pillar to any hockey team and the Leafs raised some eyebrows, firmly hitting their stride early on.
On the whole, Toronto was brimming with confidence heading into their game against fellow countrymen, the Montreal Canadiens, but it was not to be when the team came apart after surrendering a comfortable lead.
The evening unfolded with the Leafs crumbling, conceding an early goal, but Toronto yet again provided that they were made of stronger things by firing ahead netting the next four goals in succession. The Leafs were looking down the barrel of a perfect 3-0-0 record, but they seemed to come apart at the seam by surrendering their insurmountable 4-1 lead.
It was a slow start for the Canadians, but the Habs finished in emphatic fashion by storming back from a three-goal deficit to brush aside their oldest rivals. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians have played various thrilling games over the last century, but after Sunday’s showdown, I’m not sure you will find any to top it.
Next on the docket for the Buds was hosting the defending Stanley Cup Champions, St Louis Blues. The Leafs demonstrated how potent attack they possess by taking an early lead with a silky Nylander finish. This was a promising for Toronto but the Blues exhibited why they were the defending champions by snapping back a 2:2 deadlock before Alex Pietrangelo put Toronto to the sword by scoring the winner in the third period.
The season is underway, but things only get tougher from here. Shaky starts are more than customary for teams, but it is the improvement that most teams build on as the season moves along. The Maple Leafs will need to ensure they are not one of the teams that get left behind.
Chicago Blackhawks 3 – 4 Philadelphia Flyers
Winnipeg Jets 5 – 4 New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders 1 – 2 Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 – 1 Columbus Blue Jackets
Las Vegas Golden Knights 5 – 1 San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 – 6 Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators 1 – 4 New York Rangers
Washington Capitals 2 – 3 Carolina Hurricanes
Buffalo Sabres 7 – 2 New Jersey Devils
Pittsburgh Penguins 7 – 2 Columbus Blue Jackets
Florida Panthers 4 – 3 Tampa Bay Lightning
St Louis Blues 3 – 2 Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators 3 – 5 Detroit Red Wings
Colorado Avalanche 4 – 2 Minnesota Wild
Arizona Coyotes 0 – 1 Boston Bruins
Anaheim Ducks 3 – 1 San Jose Sharks
Edmonton Oilers 6 – 5 LA Kings
Calgary Flames 3 – 0 Vancouver Canucks
Carolina Hurricanes 4 – 3 Tampa Bay Lightning
Detroit Red Wings 4 – 3 Dallas Stars
New York Islanders 4 – 1 Winnipeg Jets
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 – 3 Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 3 St Louis Blues
Florida Panthers 3 – 6 Carolina Hurricanes
Washington Capitals 3 – 4 Dallas Stars
New York Islanders 2 – 5 Edmonton Oilers
Pittsburgh Penguins 1 – 4 Winnipeg Jets
Detroit Red Wings 1 – 3 Anaheim Ducks
Nashville Predators 5 – 2 San Jose Sharks
Calgary Flames 3 – 4 LA Kings
Las Vegas Golden Knights 3 – 4 Boston Bruins
NHL Eastern Conference Favorite – Tampa Bay Lighting – +300
NHL Western Conference Favorite – Las Vegas Golden Knights – +450
NHL Atlantic Division Favorite – Tampa Bay Lightning – +130
NHL Central Division Favorite – St Louis Blues – +400
NHL Metropolitan Division Favorite – Washington Capitals – +330
NHL Pacific Division Favorite – Las Vegas Golden Knights – +165