Toronto Maple Leafs Need To Take Advantage of Injuries to Division Rivals

Nathan ColeCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2010

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 30:  Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens is assisted off the ice to the dressing room after being injured in the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 30, 2010 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

As the injuries begin to mount up around the league it is interesting to note how many of them are happening to teams in the Northeast Division.  Already the Leafs have started better than they did last year, but it is only two games in, and they have to remain consistent to grab important points early in the season.  

Every point they get now is one they don't have to make up at the end of the year when playoffs are on the line for every team, when the points are much harder to come by. There are no teams that the Leafs play more than the ones in their own division, so it is important that they grab every point possible against the weakened teams.

The Boston Bruins started their year with their perennial point-a-game player Marc Savard on the shelf, as he was still suffering from post concussion symptoms.  Savard was hit with a blindside elbow to the head last year from Matt Cooke on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and still hasn't quite recovered from it. 

Boston is lucky that they have a wealth of options in the centre position with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and newly acquired Tyler Seguin, but it never helps to lose their leading scorer Savard.   

The Ottawa Senators felt pretty secure with their team once they made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market by landing Sergei Gonchar.  The figured with the addition of Gonchar on their power play and a bounce back season from Jason Spezza that they would have enough to once again be in the thick of the playoff hunt.  

But the Senators have started the year win-less in three games and Daniel Alfredsson left the last game with what was called a lower body injury.  If they lost their Captain and most consistent point producer for any length of time it would be a big blow to Ottawa and their potent offense.

The Montreal Canadiens have begun their year without their best offensive defenseman Andrei Markov, who when healthy is one of the best power play quarterbacks in the league.  Granted, they have young Calder trophy candidate P.K. Subban to take up some of the slack, but imagine how much more potent they would be with both guns firing at full force.  

Finally, the Buffalo Sabres might have just lost one of their top line wingers when Jason Pominville was hit from behind by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.  Pominville suffered a concussion and a cut above the eye when his head was slammed into the boards, and as it is evident in Savard's case, concussions are a tricky business.

It is unknown when the Sabres will get one of their premiere offensive weapons back, but it could be anywhere from a week to the season, though that is unlikely.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are relatively injury free right now, and need to stay that way to gain some early ground in the standings.  An injury to one of their top-line forwards would be devastating as their depth is not nearly as strong as some of their division rivals.  

If the Leafs are planning to make the playoffs this year, as they have stated is their goal, then they must take advantage of the bad luck of other teams to start the year strong.