As Ontario prepares for another lockdown, their beloved Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team is getting as far away as possible from that mess and will take on the surging Vancouver Canucks in a Hockey Night in Canada blockbuster. Despite the Leafs stellar record and the hope of another embarrassing first-round exit, the Canucks will actually be the main focus in the latest meeting between the two cross-country meccas.
Leafs fans everywhere are upset and rightfully so.
The Leafs have built a pretty impressive roster and have been dealt a lucky hand with the return of 2003 AHL All-star Jason Spezza (current edit: Jason Spezza has been placed in COVID-19 protocol) returning from suspension to draw into the lineup for Toronto. On the other side of the ledger, it’s the Vancouver Canucks with an overhauled front office that on the turn of a dime have become the NHL’s hottest team with six-straight wins after the hiring of new head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Before the turn, former coach Travis Green was pushing a flaming pile of poop around with a paper straw that had been sitting in water for days. Not a pleasant sight.
Now, the man who they chant “Bruce, there it is” is leading the Canucks back into relevancy and believe it or not, a possible playoff spot.
Saturday night’s matchup won’t be about how the Leafs are rolling or how Justin Bieber’s BFF Auston Matthews is three goals off the NHL lead; it will be focused on the home team and their bounce-back week of awesomeness.
Brock Boeser had four goals before the change and has added five goals and two assists in the last 10 days. Apparently, the pep talk from Boudreau telling him to shoot more because he’s a shooter worked out.
It hasn’t just been Boeser’s shot that has returned, it’s been Bo Horvat with his big week (3G/2A), J.T. Miller’s passing (1G/6A), and Quinn Hughes’ dominance on the back end (6A). A sharper penalty-kill and a faster approach have also been a breath of fresh air.
Toronto will likely be without Alex Kerfoot and former New York Islander John Tavares after they were placed in COVID-19 protocol. I’d expect Leafs Nation to voice their displeasure because two players aren’t available for such an important game and they’ll beg Gary Bettman to postpone the game until they’re healthy. Imagine not being able to beat the lowly Canucks because Tavares was out? Good thing the suspension was reduced for Spezza because they’ll rely heavily on him to provide offence.
Toronto hasn’t been very successful in Rogers Arena with the Leafs maintaining a pretty putrid streak of four-straight losses in Vancouver and having only won twice at the Rog since 2010 while the Canucks have curb-stomped them for 12 wins in that same span.
While many Canucks fans are just as shocked as anyone that their team has rebounded, they always get amped up for a game against the hated Leafs squad and anything less than a win is unacceptable.
You’re probably thinking “wow, at the beginning of this he called all Leafs fans mouth breathers and says we’re butt-hurt”. I did say that in the title but the truth is, what I MEANT was that you’re a bunch of mouth breathers and you’re butt-hurt; I left out the bunch part. Dean Blundell will have this game on his 32″ Toshiba standard definition when the puck drops while the rest of Canada sees this game in HD, 4K, or hey, I hear that VR headset is pretty rad.
Come springtime, the Canucks may be out of the playoffs but the Leafs will be as successful as the Island Boys music career.
I fully expect this game to be fast-paced with the Canucks taking the W at the end of the night, which I should remind you is around 6:45 pm pacific time (almost bedtime for you Easterners).
The Canucks are back and they’re about to be a major pain in your ass.
Also, Leafs suck.