After a triumphant win in New Jersey, without captain John Tavares, newly acquired Ryan O’Reilly, and Luke Schenn, who is awaiting the birth of his third child in Vancouver, it is now time for the Maple Leafs to head homeward for a four-game homestand.
It all starts off on Saturday, March 11th, when the team takes on the Edmonton Oilers for the second time in 10 days at Scotiabank arena. Before we get into specifics, this game will serve as an opportunity for the Maple Leafs and Leafs nation to acknowledge International Women’s Day. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment will take the opportunity to honor female athletes, like Olympian Alysha Newman, among many others. We will salute them as we progress toward gender equity in sports.
The team last faced the Edmonton Oilers on March 1st in Edmonton, with a tough 5-2 loss. The Oilers have gone 3-1-0 since their last meeting with the Maple Leafs. Evander Kane returned to the lineup Thursday in Boston for a battle with the Bruins after time off with a rib injury. The Oilers won that game 3-2.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Maple Leafs will remain without Ryan O’Reilly, who has been placed on long-term injured reserve with a broken finger. He has since undergone successful surgery and is expected to return to play in four weeks. Maple leaves captain John Tavares sat out last game due to feeling under the weather. Also, Tavares received some heavy hits against the Canucks on Saturday, so the team is being extra precautionary in keeping him out. When this article was written, it was unclear whether he would return for Saturday’s game against Edmonton. But hopefully, his return is on the horizon.
Considering that two or three major players will be sitting out for Saturday’s duel with the Oilers, Maple Leafs have been known to play well in the face of adversity. I am predicting a 4-2 win over the Oilers this weekend.
On Monday, the Maple Leafs will face the Buffalo Sabres in their third and final match of the season. The Maple Leafs won both games facing the Sabres previously on November 19th and February 21st. The Buffalo Sabres have a 5-4-0 record since their last meeting with the Maple Leafs. They have one more game with the Rangers on Saturday before they come to Toronto for Monday’s game. I predict a 5-1 Maple Leafs victory over the Buffalo Sabres. This will close out this series between the two teams, with the Maple Leafs sweeping all games.
After a day off on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs will return to work for a battle against the Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, on Wednesday at home. Maple Leafs last faced the Colorado Avalanche on New Year’s Eve in Denver. The Leafs finished the game with a 5-2 win. Colorado has a record of 14-10-2 since their last meeting with the Leafs. They will face the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens before the duel with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday in downtown Toronto. For this game, I’m predicting that Colorado will tie this two-game series. The game will finish with a 4-3 Avalanche win.
The boys in blue will finish their home stand in a contest with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. These two teams last faced each other early in the season when the Maple Leafs pulled out a 3-1 victory on November 6th on a road trip in Carolina. The Hurricanes have a 34-13-5 record since their last match-up with the Leafs. This week the Hurricanes will play the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils, and the Winnipeg Jets before their meeting with the Maple Leafs on Friday in Toronto. This game falls on Saint Patrick’s Day, so naturally, the Leafs will be dawning their St. Pats green and white jerseys. I predict that they complete the home stand with a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
As it stands, on Friday, March the 10th, the Maple Leafs record is 39-17-8. After the game with the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs will head to Ottawa to begin their regular season’s second-to-last road trip.