The Toronto Maple Leafs set a franchise record for wins in November and will look to continue their winning ways with 13 games in December. The 12th month of the year comes with many time commitments that could take away from your Maple Leafs’ viewing time. In that case, here are the can’t miss games of December.
It starts on the first of the month. The team many picked as the favourite for the Stanley Cup pays a visit and brings old friend, Nazem Kadri, home to Toronto. The highly-skilled Colorado Avalanche has started the season somewhat slower than expected. However, with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar, this team can break out anytime.
Kadri, drafted 7th overall in 2009 by the Maple Leafs, is having the best start of his NHL career. The London, Ontario native who played ten seasons in Toronto has become a vital piece of the Avalanche’s success. He is still as feisty as ever, but Toronto has a new agitator in town. It will be interesting to see Michael Bunting and Kadri on the ice at the same time.
Maple Leafs Only Western Canada Trip
The Blue and White travel to Canada’s wild west in the middle of the month. Whoever scheduled the Hockey Night in Canada game as the Leafs against the Vancouver Canucks must be kicking themselves. That game is on Dec. 18, one week before Christmas, so you must have something better to do than to watch this one. However, the two other western Canada teams, the Oilers and Flames, are outstanding.
When you get a chance to watch Connor McDavid, you take it, mark your calendar for Tuesday, Dec. 14 vs the Edmonton Oilers with a big red circle; this is a must-see event. Not only is it McDavid, but Leon Draisaitl is phenomenal as well, and now you can add one more layer to this storyline. It will be the first time the Leafs play former heart and soul player – Zach Hyman. He left Toronto in the past offseason and got paid quite nicely in Edmonton. He has fit right in with McDavid and company.
If you happen to miss the Oilers match-up, then catch the Dec. 16 game in Calgary. The Flames are surprising a lot of teams in the 2021-22 season. Darryl Sutter has turned this team around, and of course, with Matthew Tkachuk on the ice, anything can happen.
Maple Leafs First Game in Seattle
Whenever a franchise with more than a century of history does something for the first time, you should be watching. The western Canadian swing now has one more stop, just south of the border in Seattle. If you only watch Maple Leafs games and haven’t seen much about the Kraken and the Climate Pledge Arena, you have to tune in on Dec. 19.
From the goal song, Nirvana’s Lithium (Maple Leafs could use some goal song tips) to the (fake) salmon on the ice, the Seattle fans have fully embraced the NHL. I’m sure there will be plenty of content about the Kraken’s arena, like the historic pyramid-like roof that collects rainwater to make ice. This game will also be against former Leafs’ assistant coach, Dave Hakstol.
One more option is the second match-up of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 9. The defending, back-to-back Stanley Cup champions had Toronto beat on Nov. 4. Still, the Maple Leafs scored in the final minute and won the game in overtime. That game was when Toronto regained its confidence, and the team managed to keep it rolling since then. Toronto also plays the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 4, Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 7 and Dec. 27, Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 11, St. Louis Blues on Dec. 23 and Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 29.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.