Are the 10-4 Toronto Maple Leafs for real? Beating the Vancouver Canucks on the road on Saturday night would prove that the Leafs are indeed playing a level of hockey that solidifies them as legit contenders to top the Eastern Conference by regular season’s end.
Although these two teams don’t play each other often, there seems to be bad blood between the two every time they hit the ice together. The cross-country rivalry is fueled by a mutual love for hockey that can’t seem to bring the two cities together. The fan bases dislike each other and the players do too.
Only a day after the Canucks decided to extend the contracts of Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin, the Maple Leafs will look to stay hot on their Western Canada road trip by completing a three-game sweep after already beating the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames earlier this week.
Even though they are currently sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference‘s tough Pacific Division, the Canucks are known to be a well-balanced team that can beat anyone on any given day. This is what makes this game so important for the Maple Leafs. If they beat the Canucks on the road inside Rogers Arena, the Leafs would have the right to call themselves the best Canadian team in the NHL.
If Phil Kessel can stay hot for the Leafs and the defense can keep Canucks forward Ryan Kesler under control while spoiling the pay-day party for the Sedin twins, the Maple Leafs will enjoy a long flight home having dominated their road trip out west.
Not only would a win prove to the hockey world that they reign supreme where hockey matters most, the loss would reside in the heads of Canucks fans until the two teams meet again on Feb. 8, 2014. That’s a long time to wait if you are a Canucks fan.