The Toronto Maple Leafs will face off against one of its recent biggest rivals, and not only are they dangerous, they are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions: The Washington Capitals! Having lost to them in Game 7 of the first round only 2 seasons ago, is still fresh in the memory of the young team who want to put those days behind him, and fast! Fast is the keyword since the Leafs are by far one of the fastest, most threatening and powerful teams in the East. This could be a preview of the Conference final showdown later this season, so there’s a lot of reasons to tune in tonight!
Toronto vs. Washington
Auston Matthews is on a roll leading the league with 9 goals, and has had a tremendous start. Mix in Mitchell Marner in there and his quiet performance, alongside Morgan Rielly on defence, and it’s obvious this team has come busting out the gate. Washington is no shrinking violet, as they have shown flashes of brilliance carried over from their championship last season. They will want to show that they reign supreme and even though the upstart Leafs have talent, they don’t have the 13 seasons captain Alex Ovechkin has, to lead his team to a victory when it matters. And usually that happens in the third period.
The last time these two teams faced each other was back in March 3rd, when they played an exceptional outdoor game. It’s the exact same game where Ovechkin scored his fourtieth goal of that season. Matthews is so hot right now it feels like he will do that by next month.
It would be interesting to see the two talents come head to head tonight, to see who the momentum favours. Ovechkin finally got the Cup last year was also touted a natural goal scorer like Matthews and many had predicted would have already been on his third or fourth championship. But alas, that’s now how it works in the NHL with so much parity! The Capitals really are not the same team as last year, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be an easy match up. We can expect this game to get rough and roudy. Braden Holtby is still himself an all-star, despite his team struggling a bit to get their footing and he can easily win them a game. Only winning two of four to start the season, including the embarrassing 6-0 loss this past Thursday night to the Devils.
“They came with a ton of energy – understandably – and were competing, and skating and making plays,” said Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen to NHL.com. “We were a little slow, a little sloppy with the puck, weren’t thinking quick enough and just didn’t execute well enough to really make it a game. Credit them because they played really hard and really well, and we should play better.”
The Leafs will be really motivated to conquer these champs and get a moral victory under their belts. And right now, they are so hot that, that any dumb penalty by the Caps and the score will easily tilt in the visitor’s direction. Just ask the Detroit Red Wings who got taught that lesson a few nights ago. No matter what it should be a high-scoring affair, so strap in, get your bets on, and enjoy!
Pick: Toronto wins, 6 plus goals