The division alignment for this season has given us a treat that we didn’t know we needed. The North Division consisted of all seven NHL teams north of the border, and as we all predicted the Toronto Maple Leafs came out on top. The Leafs finished the season with a 35-14-7 record which netted them 77 points. The Canadiens went 24-21-11 which gave them 59 points and the 4th spot in the North Division. The last time these two teams saw each other in the playoffs was way back in 1979.
Mark your calendars 🗓
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 13, 2021
Since there were only seven teams in this division the teams in the North got to play each team an extra time. But the Canadiens and the Lefas played each other 10 times this season. The Leafs were more than dominant in this series. They won seven of the ten games and outscored the Canadiens 34 to 25. The last regular-season game between these two ways May 8th where the Leafs won 3 to 2.
Coming into the year the Canadiens had high expectations and some even picked them to win this division. The goaltending duo of Carey Price and Jake Allen wasn’t spectacular. Neither goaltender finished in the top 30 of qualified goaltenders in either GAA or SV%. They are 18th in the league with 2.75 goals allowed per game. Carey Price has been the team’s go-to guy since he came into the league and there is no good argument to make to not stick with him in the playoffs. Price also tends to elevate his play when it comes to the postseason. In 70 career playoff games Price has a 2.43 GAA and a .917SV%.
The Canadiens look like geniuses after one year of Tyler Toffoli. He was the teams leading scorer with 28 goals which were also good for 7th in the league. He finished with 44 points, two points ahead of Jeff Petry who lead the team in assists with 30. The play of Nick Suzuki is something the organization should be happy about. The kid scored 15 goals to go along with 26 assists. He matched his point totals from his rookie season last year and did it in 15 fewer games. Also, watch out for Cole Caufield. The 5-foot-7 winger can score from anywhere on the ice. He’s already got four goals in his first 10 career games.
We knew all year that the Leafs were the best team in the North. In the goal-scoring department, Auston Matthews led the way with 41 goals which were also the most in the NHL. Despite his 41 goals Matthews finished 2nd on the team in total points. Mitch Marner finished the regular season with 67 points. The Leafs finished 6th in the league with 3.32 goals per game.
During the regular season, the Leafs used four different goalies. Of those four goalies, Jack Campbell proved to be the team’s best goaltender. He appeared in 22 games and earned 17 wins. He finished with a 2.15 GAA and a .921 SV%. Campbell finished in the top nine in both of the categories among qualified goaltenders. Thanks to Campbell the Leafs finished 7th in the league with 2.64 goals allowed per game.
The Leafs seem to be heavy favorites in this series and rightfully so. They were the dominant team in the season series and have been the best team in the North Division. But regular-season results don’t always translate to the playoffs. It is a whole new atmosphere and the Canadiens are out to prove themselves. This should be a physical series and has the potential to be the best first-round series. Bugzy says Leafs in 7.
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