Canadiens Can Compete With Maple Leafs in a First Round Series

The Montréal Canadiens’ most up-to-date victory made their playoff future a bit clearer. With that win, the Canadiens now have 57 factors to the Calgary Flames’ 47 with eight video games remaining on the schedule. The Habs’ playoff chance elevated, which implies they’re now not less than a 70 % lock to play the Toronto Maple Leafs within the first spherical of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The potential sequence could be the primary time the Without end Rivals have performed in a playoff sequence since 1979 and will sign a rebirth of what many think about to be the best rivalry in NHL historical past.

How do the Canadiens measure as much as the Maple Leafs prematurely of their possible matchup?

Season Sequence so Far

The Canadiens’ remaining schedule has them enjoying the Maple Leafs two extra instances. In eight earlier video games, the Canadiens maintain a report of 3-4-1, permitting not less than three objectives in every of the losses. The early video games within the season sequence demonstrated among the Canadiens’ particular person weaknesses, closely counting on the scoring touches of Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson to maintain them within the video games for so long as doable. The Maple Leafs regarded unstoppable for a lot of that very same interval, with forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner powering the high-octane offence.

Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens (Photograph by Mark Blinch/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs)

The primary Habs’ victory over the Maple Leafs ended the Leafs’ then-win streak at 4 video games, however the Canadiens couldn’t cease Matthews from extending his level streak to 12 in a row. Their second halted the record-setting tempo of goaltender Jack Campbell and noticed beforehand maligned gamers like Tomas Tatar bust out of slumps. Regardless of the general report in opposition to the Leafs this season, the Habs’ victories over them got here at essential junctures and show that they’ll hold powerful when it issues.

What Do the Stats Say?

Though the Leafs presently sit fifth within the league standings and first within the Scotia North Division (9 factors forward of the Edmonton Oilers), their lofty perch hides some regarding numbers. Their penalty kill ranks twenty sixth within the league at 76.6 %, down from final season when it ranked twenty first at 77.7 %. They’ve additionally had struggles with goaltending in shorthanded conditions – Frederik Andersen owned a measly .882 save proportion and Jack Campbell an unsightly .833 – that distract from how good they are often at their finest.

Toronto Maple Leafs Frederik Andersen
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Younger)

Maybe surprisingly, the Canadiens examine nicely to the Maple Leafs in all related staff classes. The Canadiens energy play proportion sits at 20.4 % to the Leafs’ 21.6 %, and their penalty kill is barely higher than their conventional rivals, 77.7 % to 76.7 %. On a extra detailed stage, the April 28 Leafs-Canadiens recreation is an efficient indicator of how nicely the 2 groups examine. Though the Canadiens misplaced the sport 4-1, the numbers inform a distinct story. At even energy, the Canadiens managed 55.26 % of shot makes an attempt and had considerably extra scoring possibilities, notching 27 to the Leafs’ 16. If it weren’t for the Canadiens’ unforced errors, the recreation would’ve been a lot nearer than it was.

Seize your requirements and discover shelter instantly. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a scored an influence play aim.

Moreover, the Maple Leafs’ current run of totally disastrous play with the person benefit implies that the Canadiens can get away with taking penalties typically. As of April 16, the Maple Leafs have been 1 for his or her final 42 on the facility play, an abysmal 2.4 %. It appears their opponents have fairly simply discovered their tendencies and have clogged the center of the defensive zone. The Canadiens are completely able to doing simply that, with the likes of Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson patrolling the again finish and a strong two-way ahead like Paul Byron roaming close to the defensive blue line. Taking penalties isn’t harmful when the opponent can’t rating on the powerplay.

Canadiens Can Capitalize on Leafs’ Struggles in Web

Though calmed down extra so lately, the carousel of goaltenders that the Maple Leafs have employed in previous weeks (David Rittich, Michael Hutchinson, Campbell) would possible imply {that a} beginning netminder for the playoffs is doubtlessly undecided. Andersen has missed a big period of time with a lower-body damage, and his current return to full follow signifies his want to reclaim his misplaced turf. Earlier than his comeback to follow, Andersen stated,

“There are some demanding positions my physique will get into and so they created some issues. I reached a degree the place I simply didn’t really feel assured within the web. I wasn’t being as aggressive as I wanted to. As a participant, you don’t wish to admit to that, or say ‘cease’ your self. It was happening perhaps a bit too lengthy. I used to be joyful they received (the issues) caught and received mounted earlier than they received any worse. I’m simply relieved it’s getting in the fitting path. I’m simply joyful to be again out with the fellows.”

Maple Leafs’ goaltender Frederik Andersen on his current play (from “Maple Leafs’ Goalie Andersen Intends to Show His Value” Lance Hornby. Toronto Solar. 26/04/21).

The Canadiens lack this similar wrestle – they’re merely resting Carey Worth and ready for his return – and the potential for controversy on the a part of the Leafs’ crease implies that goaltending dominance will not be assured, because it was believed to be earlier within the yr. The Habs can capitalize on this inconsistency and doubtlessly flip it right into a first-round victory.

David Rittich Toronto Maple Leafs
David Rittich, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photograph by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs)

Playoff hockey between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs is one thing the league and followers have been clamouring over for over 40 years. It harkens again to the times of old-time hockey and legendary gamers like Dave Keon and Ken Dryden. Though the Leafs have been some of the unstoppable groups this season, there are areas that point out a lower-seeded Canadiens staff can push them to the brink and even get rid of them.

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