Game #64: Leafs @ Canadiens, 7pm (EST)

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The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning played afternoon games today and both teams won.

For the moment that has pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs into the #1 wild card spot. With a game in hand on the Lightning and two in hand on the Bruins, the Leafs hold the keys to their own fate.

The question being asked around the water cooler is what fate would suit them best?

While it does look unlikely that the Washington Capitals will end up anywhere but the 2nd wild card spot, the fact that the rest of the teams are so close means the Leafs could see any one of the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins in the first round. The other two teams in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, are unlikely opponents as well, but it’s not impossible.

The general consensus is that the Boston Bruins would be the team to meet once the calendar flips to the month of May and the playoffs begin.

I will admit, the idea of finally breaking through to the second round of the playoffs, while also exorcising old playoff demons, is extremely tempting.

Let me know who you want the Leafs to face in the first round in the comments.

Signing Alert

Nick Abruzzese is getting a lot of attention from Leafs Nation and, while I do love to see a love for one’s prospects, I think it may be a little much.

I’m as excited as the next guy for the development of Abruzzese, but I worry about expectations being set too high. Nick has been playing well for Harvard over the past couple of years, but may need more seasoning in the AHL. He’s listed at 5’9″ 160lbs, which is quite small for an NHL player. He may be bigger than that now, considering thats been his listing since he was drafted, but he was always going to be an undersized player at the NHL level. He could need time to adapt to a faster/heavier game, so a little more patience may be in order.

With that said, I do hope that he breaks in as a full time NHL player. The Leafs need good players on entry level contracts. It’s important for good teams to have them in order to compete at a high level.

Lineups + Starter

Erik Kallgren gets the nod tonight, with Petr Mrazek going against the Florida Panthers tomorrow. The hope is they can string together a few wins and solidify a spot in the top 3 in the Atlantic Division, garnering home ice advantage.

Enjoy the game.