Toronto Maple Leafs: Six Super Games To Look Forward To This Season
The release of the official NHL schedule is an exciting day for teams because it represents a clean slate and the promise of a new season.
For the fans, the schedule brings excitement that the regular season is on the horizon. Fans quickly circle their calendars to mark important dates, like matchups against hated rivals and star players.
Sure, it’s only August, but here’s an early look at the most intriguing Maple Leaf games to look forward to next season.
Thursday, October 7, 2010 vs. the Montreal Canadiens
The Leafs open the regular season at home against the Montreal Canadiens, in what will be an exciting game between two of the NHL’s most storied rivals.
Despite not playing in a competitive atmosphere in months, both teams will battle hard in hopes of securing a win in their respective opening games.
Hockey will be in the air as the doors of the Air Canada Centre swing open after an uneventful summer.
There will be several intriguing storylines for both teams. The Leafs will sport a revamped offense, with a quality tandem of goaltenders between the pipes. On the other end, Carey Price will begin a season where he is on a mission to prove himself as a legitimate No. 1 goalie.
Additionally, Mike Komisarek will face his former team, once again, on the opening night of the NHL season. Leaf fans can only pray that he doesn't repeat his poor performance from last season.
Saturday, October 9, 2010 vs. the Ottawa Senators
After opening the season against the Canadiens, the blue and white play host to the Ottawa Senators three days later.
The Battle of Ontario has weakened over the past few seasons, but nevertheless the opening chapter should be an interesting tilt.
The Senators didn’t make a large quantity of offseason moves, but they made a quality one in signing power play quarterback Sergei Gonchar to a three-year contract. Therefore, Leaf forwards will be given the not-so-easy task of shutting down Gonchar by attempting to limit his time and space on the power play.
The goaltending matchup between these two teams will be another storyline to watch as the rivalry unfolds. And don't forget, there's no Leafs vs. Sens game without a heated tilt between Colton Orr and Matt Carkner.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will host the Leafs in the brand new Consol Energy Center, opening this fall.
The sight of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same ice surface is always a memorable event. The Leafs defense will be given the task of shutting down Pittsburgh's one-two-three punch at centre.
On the other end, Pittsburgh's signings of Paul Martin and Zybnek Michalek will replace the void left by Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi missing last season. Two of the Eastern Conference's best defensive corps will be matching up head-to-head four times over the course of the season.
Thursday, October 28, 2010 vs. the Boston Bruins
Sure, both teams play in the same division, but the rivalry between the Bruins and Leafs continues to build now that second overall pick Tyler Seguin is suiting up for Boston.
The heckling in Toronto will revolve around Seguin, while the booing in Beantown will be directed toward Phil Kessel.
The defensive matchups of Zdeno Chara and Dion Phaneuf will provide an interesting backdrop to a potentially nasty season series. The only thing that would make this game a more hated matchup? If Marc Savard becomes a member of the Maple Leafs between now and the beginning of training camp.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 vs. the Washington Capitals
Two words: Alex Ovechkin. Enough said.
Saturday, March 5, 2010 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks
Toronto will face off against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in what should be a high-tempo game.
Both teams play an offensive game with emphasis on speed and skill. New Leaf Kris Versteeg will be facing his former teammates, while Viktor Stalberg will play his former teammates in Toronto.
By this point in time, judgments of the multi-player trade between the Leafs and Blackhawks will be made and the winner will be ultimately determined. After losing eight players in the offseason, the Chicago Blackhawks may well be fighting for a playoff spot.