Is it true that there’s “no rest for the wicked”? I couldn’t tell you.
However, in the case of the Toronto Maple Leafs – who are unquestionably the good guys in any hockey story – there’s plenty of time for rest.
Since clinching the playoffs on Saturday, the team has been given two days of rest.
The team flew to Florida immediately after Saturday’s shellacking of the Ottawa Senators in the Nation’s Capital. They were given both Sunday and Monday off for some well-deserved R&R.
The extra rest couldn’t come at a better time. The Leafs just completed a rash of five games over eight days, going 3-2-0 and clinching their first playoff appearance in nine years.
In contrast, the week ahead for the Leafs is relatively tame. They don’t play again until Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is followed by a game against the Florida Panthers on the very next day and a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday to close the regular season.
The first two games provide the Leafs with an excellent opportunity to solidify their hold on fifth place in the Eastern Conference. A pair of wins may even put the Leafs in a position to challenge for fourth place or possibly even higher in the standings as both games are definitely winnable.
Meanwhile, the Montreal game could have serious playoff implications if the Leafs can manage to catch the Canadiens in the standings beforehand. Under this scenario, a win over Montreal could see the Leafs either capture first place in the Northeast Division or finish fourth overall in the Eastern Conference, giving them home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Toronto, it should be added, has generally dominated Montreal all season.
After a sometimes turbulent but ultimately successful regular season, the Leafs deserve some rest. If all plays out according to plan, it’ll be their last chance for rest until bringing the Cup home in late June or early July.
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