The Toronto Maple Leafs enjoyed their most successful month of October since the early 1990s. With a 7-3-1 record, the Leafs finished exactly as I predicted they would in my preview of October article.
The Leafs beat most of the teams that they were the supposed to beat, and won some games they should have lost.
They succeeded even though, at times, they were without Tim Connolly, Clarke MacArthur, Colby Armstrong and James Reimer. With Connolly and MacArthur already back in the lineup and Reimer appearing set to return this week, the Leafs could be in very good shape for the month of November.
The Leafs start off the month with a bunch of games with teams that they should be able to beat and if they win the games they should win, the Leafs should be able to have an even more successful November.
So without further delay, let's get the predicting underway.
November 2 @ New Jersey—Should Win
New Jersey seems to be in the same situation it was in last season. The Leafs should be able to capitalize on them tonight.
November 3 @ Columbus—Should Win
Quite simply, Columbus is the worst team in the league and losing to them is unacceptable.November 5 vs. Boston—Maybe
I know the Leafs got shellacked by Boston in their previous meeting, but Boston is still not performing as well as it should and the Leafs should be able to beat them with James Reimer in net.
November 8 vs. Florida—Maybe
I never thought I would list Florida as a “Maybe,” but the changes the Panthers have made seem to be working. For how long though is the question.
November 10 @ St. Louis—Should Win
The Blues might in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, but the Leafs are the better team as of right now.
November 12 vs. Ottawa—Should Win
The Leafs' first chance at revenge after Sunday night’s loss, they should be really motivated for this game.
November 15 vs. Phoenix—Should Win
Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne will provide a tough challenge. This game could come down to which goalie blinks first.
November 19 vs. Washington—Maybe
What Will be the Leafs record be in the month of November?
At the beginning of the season, I would have said that all games against Washington would be “Should Lose” games, but the way the Leafs are performing, they might be able to pull this one out.
November 20 @ Carolina—Should Win
When the season began, it was said that Carolina would be one of the teams the Leafs would be competing with for the final playoff spot. That might still be the case, so the Leafs need to beat teams like the Hurricanes.
November 22 @ Tampa Bay—Maybe
The Lightning might not be off to the start that they wanted, but Steven Stamkos and co. can never be taken lightly.
November 25 @ Dallas—MaybeBoth the Leafs and Stars have gotten off to unexpectedly great starts. By the time they meet however, will either of them still be in the spot they're in?
November 27 @ Anaheim—Maybe
Another team off to a slow start, but like Tampa Bay, Anaheim’s stars could come alive at any time.
November 30 vs. Boston—Maybe
If Boston hasn’t turned it around by this time, it can officially hit the panic button. That is, if it hasn’t already.
Which team has the biggest chance to make the playoffs?
Did you notice that there are no “Should Lose” results in there? Now, I’m not saying that the Leafs won’t lose a game this month—as good as the Leafs are right now, they aren’t that good. What I’m saying is that, if there is a month where the Leafs can pack on the points, this is it.
Not that all the wins will be easy, they won’t be, but they should be able to come out of November with a record above .500 for the month.
With 14 games in November, I would have to say that the best record the Leafs could come out with is 9-5, and if some of those losses could come in overtime or a shootout—let's say two of them—even better.
Add that record to the Leafs' current record and you have 16-6-3. The Leafs would have a total of 35 points for the season and be well on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since the lockout.
Am I being a bit too optimistic? Maybe, but the Leafs have exceeded everyone’s expectations, and until they give me a reason not to be, I’m going to continue being optimistic.
It’s a good time to be a Leafs fan.