The writers who cover the Toronto Maple Leafs for The Hockey Writers get together once a week in the Maple Leafs Lounge. Our tenth episode marked the first show that broke the 1K views plateau. We’ve had viewers and readers of our site request a podcast. We are happy to oblige. You can find this episode and future productions on your favourite podcast location or by going to this link.
In our eleventh episode, we focused in on the new month that will include the start of the playoffs and the decisions the Maple Leafs are going to have to make.
Who are the April Stars?
The show was recorded on the first day of May when the three stars of the month were to be published. I reached out to my colleagues to come up with some nominations. Alex Hobson, who admitted to being Captain Obvious, listed his three candidates, “I’d have to go with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.” Hobson says that Matthews’s race for the Rocket Richard Trophy is worthy of the nod. At the same time, Tavares had his best offensive output of the season over the last month, and Marner leads the team in points.
Peter Baracchini agreed with the picks but added Rasmus Sandin to the list. “I know it’s been a very small sample size, like the past five or six games, but he has been absolutely phenomenal taking on that third pairing role, especially with Zach Bogosian going out.” I went outside the box with my selections and picked the general manager Kyle Dubas and assistant general manager, Brandon Pridham, for their performance at the trade deadline. “I know this is a hockey podcast, but to catch you up on what’s going on in the NFL, the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers said he would retire before returning to the Green Bay Packers,” I explained Rodgers is having issues with the front office, “whatever is going on in Green Bay shows that the team is way more than what you see on the field of play.” Click this link to see who got the stars.
Time to Sit the Stars
Entering May, the Maple Leafs have clinched a playoff spot and are closing in on securing the top seed in the North Division. The writers agree it’s time to sit the stars. “You’re at the point now where you have the players, you have the depth, and you have the players to come in and at least give a solid game where even if you lose, the effort was there,” said Baracchini.
Hobson agrees but with a caveat, “I only say this because I’m a Leaf fan, and I want to see it happen. I wouldn’t rest Matthews until I’m comfortable enough that he has the Rocket race in the bag.” I’m all for resting the players, especially on May 12. It’s the only game between May 8th and the 14th, “so you’re looking at six days rest heading into the playoffs.”
When Hyman Returns, Who’s Out?
The Maple Leafs are riding a five-game winning streak. They’ve seemingly hit their stride, but with Zach Hyman due to return soon, one of the 12 forwards will have to give up their starting spot. Adam Brooks got the call when Hyman was injured. He has excelled, centring a line with Joe Thornton and Jason Spezza, a line that has produced 15 points in the last five games. According to the writers, it would be difficult to pull him out, which means the next man would be Alex Galchenyuk.
Hobson, who has written several articles about Galchenyuk’s improvement, agreed he may be sitting. “I’ve maintained this way of thinking all season long, both when it comes to the goalies when it comes to anybody on the team, in a 56 game season and in a year when the Leafs are going to be playing Canadian teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs you just have to play who is playing the best.”
Final Four Predictions
With playoffs right around the corner, it’s time to start getting predictions on the record. The writers all pick Carolina coming out of the Central. However, we know the managing editor of the Hockey Writers, Dean Plunkett, who also puts all of the shows and podcasts together is a Hurricanes fan. No one wanted to suddenly get knocked off of the show. Barachinni and I think Vegas is winning the West while Hobson is going with Colorado. Hobson and Baracchini pick Washington in the East while I’m going with Pittsburgh. Of course, all three of us are picking Toronto to win the North.
Who are your picks? Make sure to leave them in the comment section on this article or on YouTube to prove it with a time stamp. We would also like to thank everyone for watching and listening to the show.
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.