The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to begin a key portion of the schedule where they’ll play three road games in four nights.
The Maple Leafs lost a great opportunity during a five-game homestand when they failed to pick up points against weaker teams in the league. Now they’ll have to try to rebound by defeating top teams in the Eastern Conference on the road. Toronto lost to teams they should have beaten and will now be facing three motivated teams that will want to avenge previous losses to the Maple Leafs from earlier in the season.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto on Oct. 26 by a score of 4-1. The Penguins didn’t look very good in the contest as Dave Bolland had his best game of the season when he shut down Sidney Crosby. Things will be much different on Nov. 27 with a Pittsburgh team looking to avenge the loss and Bolland out of the lineup due to injury.
The Maple Leafs never seem to be able to win on a Friday night in Buffalo against the Buffalo Sabres. Regardless of how either team is doing entering the contest, a Friday in Buffalo nearly always guarantees a Sabres victory. Toronto can find success against Buffalo on any other day of the week, but Friday is the Sabres’ lucky day. Dating back to the 2008-09 season, the Sabres have won seven straight games when they’ve hosted the Maple Leafs on a Friday night. Despite how bad Buffalo has been this season, Toronto can’t look past their opponent on Nov. 29.
Things won’t get any easier a night after they visit Buffalo as on Nov. 30 the team will travel to face the Montreal Canadiens. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens in Montreal on Oct. 1 by a score of 4-3. It was the first game of the season for both clubs, and considering both teams are also within a point of each other in the standings it’ll likely be another tight battle.
Given that Toronto has already defeated all three opponents on their upcoming road trip it’s easy to worry if they’ll lose a game badly by taking another night off. The Maple Leafs recently put up pathetic efforts at home losing two of their last three games and have been outscored 12-4 in that span. Winning any of these games will be a tough task, and anything less than a great effort against their next three opponents will likely result in a blowout loss.
The Maple Leafs have to find success on this road trip or it could be the beginning of a downward spiral for the club. After the three-game road trip, five of their next seven games are against elite teams from the Western Conference.
It’s safe to say that if Toronto can’t take care of things on the road their record could get a lot worse before it gets any better.