The Maple Leafs continue their road swing this week with stops in Philadelphia (tonight) and New York (Thu), before returning home to face Pittsburgh (Sat), after which they head to Ottawa (Sun) to close out October.Â The week ahead will prove a difficult test for a Toronto squad which has not played nearly as well as its 5-1-1 record might otherwise suggest.
The Flyers can be expected to ice a gameplan similar to that of the Bruins last Thursday: physical, hard-forechecking forwards crashing the net and forcing defenders to try to move them.Â Things won’t get any easier against the Rangers, where perennial Vezina candidate Henrik Lundqvist has had success against the Leafs (9-4-4, 2.54, .911 in his career vs Toronto), as have forwards Marian Gaborik (11-6-6-12) and Brad Richards (30-16-14-30). And the Penguins, largely without the services of Evgeni Malkin, have found a way to get it done sporting a 6-2-2 record while allowing a mere 2.2 goals per game.
Although it may be tempting to declare Sunday’s game a reprieve, the Senators are quietly starting to find their stride. As evidenced by the first installment of the Battle of Ontario, in which Ottawa nearly came back from a four-goal deficit, nothing can be taken for granted in a league where so little separates the teams at the bottom from those in the middle of the pack.
All in all, a very tough week ahead — one which represents an opportunity for the Maple Leafs to prove to the critics that, unlike last season, this time their hot start is for real.
Morning links after the jump.
Wilson: Gustavsson to Get the Nod in Philadelphia
Pro tip: Take the over.
Schenn vs Schenn in Philly
Pro tip: Might be a good idea to stock up on home pregnancy tests.
Nazem Kadri: Photobomber
Pro tip: Safe play is to keep any and all digits out of sight. Ryan Kesler could teach him a thing or two.
Canucks, Panthers Swing a 4-Player Deal
On the surface, the deal looks like cost-cutting for Florida. Beneath the surface, it should help both teams.
Canadiens, Coyotes Swing a 3-Player Deal
Brock Trotter for Petteri Nokelainen and Garrett Stafford. Coolest “hockey name” trade ever.
Jets’ GM CheveldayoffÂ on the Decision to Send Scheifele Back to Junior
If ever a player had the right attitude toward building a career, it’s this kid. What a boost for Barrie.
Rookies Approach 9-Game Limit
With the window closing on the rookie contract rule, Sean Leahy looks at who might find themselves back in Junior this week.
Brett Hull Trolling Sabres Fans on Twitter is the Best Thing Ever
The headline says it all.
John Tortorella’s Press Conferences are the Second Best Thing Ever
16 seconds. Legendary.