A Look At Toronto Maple Leafs’ Western Road Trip
The obvious analysis in this case is that the easiest team to defeat will be the Dallas Stars. The Stars do have some great offensive talent in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. However, Kari Lehtonen has not been quite the same of late, and his team has not been performing well around him defensively. Injuries to Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley severely limit the capability of the defense to move the puck and disrupt the offensive flow of their opponents.
Look for the Leafs to be able to take advantage of the Stars with their speed and offensive creativity. If they can get solid play in goal (most likely from Jonathan Bernier), then this game should be very winnable.
The Winnipeg Jets should also be penciled in as a win for Toronto. They have had impressive wins over Phoenix, Calgary and Edmonton. Still, they do not seem to have the personnel that the Leafs have, and road games against the Ducks and Sharks this week mean that the Jets might be inclined towards a letdown, even given their home-ice advantage.
The Phoenix Coyotes will prove difficult to defeat, they have played well of late. However, they did play tonight, so they will be tired, but hungry. The Coyotes are looking to get back into a playoff position, and will be fighting hard.
The Coyotes score by committee and are often difficult to deal with defensively. The saving grace for the Leafs is that they do not have a very good penalty kill. If Phoenix gets in the box a lot early, look for Toronto to take advantage with a few PP goals.
The hardest game to win, and the one that I personally think the Leafs will lose, is Tuesday’s game against the Avalanche. Colorado is just too fast and their checking has been excellent of late. Credit goes to coach Patrick Roy for completely changing the identity and reputation of that team, which is now viewed as a legitimate contender.
The Avalanche on the tail end of a back-to-back is too hard for the Leafs to overcome. However, they should be able to take 3-of-4 and come away with six important points that they need to push ahead in the playoff race.