The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing streak Friday with a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the team’s first victory and their second game since the team parted ways with head coach Randy Carlyle last week.
After a quick two-game home-stand the Buds now hit the road for another four game road-trip that will take them to the West Coast. The boys in blue will make stops in Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose before making a stop in St. Louis next Saturday on their way back to the Air Canada Centre.
The team will be looking for a much better outing than they had during their last road-trip when the team went 2-5-0 in seven games. It will be the second meetings of the season when the Leafs take on the Ducks and the former Stanley Cup champions-Kings.
Los Angeles Kings
The Leafs got by the Kings 4-3 in a shootout last month, when the teams clashed at the ACC. The Leafs will enter Los Angeles having won three of the past five games against the former champs. Going back to 2008 the Leafs have also won their last three games in Los Angeles. Bernier has never defeated his former team. He lost his first contest again the team that drafted him 3-1 in Toronto last year and then faced the team again, but was unable to finish the game after suffering a lower-body injury. James Reimer faced the team last month in the Leafs shootout win. With the Leafs off until Wednesday, it is expected Bernier will get the start.
The Buds handed the Ducks a 6-2 pounding in their last game, but the team has gone 3-8-0 since the win back on December 16. The Maple Leafs have won the last six games between the two teams dating back to 2009. The Leafs have outscored the Ducks 29-12 during those games. Jonathan Bernier is a perfect 3-0-0 with the Leafs versus Anaheim and has allowed just five goals against.
St. Louis Blues
The Maple Leafs have not fared too well against the latter two teams they will face as both the Sharks and the Blues have had success against the Leafs. The team dropped both decisions to St. Louis last season including a 5-3 loss in March where following a couple big giveaways, captain Dion Phaneuf refused to talk to the media.
The story made headlines all over Toronto even sparking people to suggest he should be stripped of the captaincy or traded. The Buds have not seen a whole lot of the Blues over the years, meeting them just seven times since 2008. The Blues have won five of the seven games
San Jose Sharks
The Leafs have faced the Sharks just eight times since 2005 and with their record against them, they are probably ok with that.
Toronto has won just one of those eight matches and have been outscored 30-19 in those games. Reimer played in both games the Sharks last season losing both by 4-2 and 6-2 scores.
One good sign for the Maple Leafs is that so far this season the team is 8-5-1 against the Western Conference. They are also 4-1-0 against the Pacific division this year, which includes the likes of Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose.
The Maple Leafs will need a solid outing during their next four games as the team has quickly fallen out of the playoffs. The team now sits 10th in the Eastern Conference tied with the Florida Panthers who have three games in hand on the Leafs. They are three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Wild Card spot and have a game in hand on the Bruins. It won’t be easy for the Leafs, all four teams currently hold down a playoff spot in the west.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.