If the Toronto Maple Leafs find a way to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in their final game before the Olympics it would be the perfect way to head into the two-week break given what happened on Nov. 2 between the two clubs.
The Maple Leafs had just closed out October with a 10-4 record and were looking like one of the best teams in the league when they landed in Vancouver on Nov. 2. Unfortunately, the Canucks completely changed Toronto’s season after defeating the Maple Leafs in a 4-0 blowout victory. The loss for Toronto also included Dave Bolland having the back of his leg cut by Zack Kassian‘s skate, an injury he still hasn’t fully recovered from.
After the crushing defeat, the Maple Leafs never seemed to fully recover to close out 2013. November and December were awful months for Toronto, highlighted by injuries, suspensions and very few regulation victories. A losing streak to begin 2014 didn’t give much hope for the downfall to turn around, however, injured Maple Leafs regained their health and the line-up began to stabilize.
The return of Tyler Bozak has seen his addition to the top-line–featuring Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk–become one of the best lines in the league. Playing Jonathan Bernier like a No. 1 goaltender even if the coach won’t fully admit Bernier is the team’s true No.1, has quieted the goalie controversy given how well the goaltender has played over the past month. The acquisition of Tim Gleason and trading of Mark Fraser has even reduced the revolving door that used to be Toronto’s blue line.
The Maple Leafs are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games while Vancouver is struggling with only a 3-7 record in their past 10 games entering the matchup. If there was ever a time Toronto was going to get revenge for the bad loss at the start of November, it would be now. The Maple Leafs need to use this opportunity to prove they are a different team than the one Vancouver turned them into when they embarrassed them three months ago.
Defeating the struggling Canucks would be the perfect way for Toronto to put early-season demons behind them and head into the two-week Olympic break on a high note.