February sees our Maple Leafs play 17 games in a very condensed month which will really test and push the rookies to their limits. Tomorrow’s game will be another tough test as they play the St. Louis Blues, a team that just fired their coach Ken Hitchcock after struggling for a greater part of this season. One thing that fans should look out for is how the team comes out to play, the Maple Leafs haven’t had a really long extended losing streak all year, which bodes well for the outcome tomorrow.
This month’s games against teams in their division and conference against Ottawa, Boston, New York Islanders, and Carolina Hurricanes will go a long way to decide their playoff chances as the standings around the Maple Leafs are getting tighter so every point matters to solidify this organization’s first playoff appearance since the shortened 2013 season.
Not only will the players and coaches be busy on the ice, management will be busy huddled in meetings discussing their plan for the March 1st trade deadline. These next 17 games will definitely go a long way in determining what management does in regards to strengthen the roster for a continued playoff push, or if the Maple Leafs find themselves outside of the playoff picture they may decide to flip veterans like Polak and the other veterans with Marlies for picks or prospects.
I would suspect GM Lou Lamoriello and company had a plan in place, one that keeps an eye on the present needs which include finding a top 4 defenseman but not losing sight on the long term plan for perpetual success in the future. Rash decisions, and trading rookies for quick solutions isn’t in the cards but one has to wonder with the team so competitive this quickly if things have changed ever so little.
February has started off with a bang! The Maple Leafs set another rookie record, Toronto can now boost that they are the first team to have 3 rookies win Rookie of the Month honors in the same season. The Maple Leafs now have Nylander, Matthews and for January Mitch Marner all named this year. Hello Connor Brown, Hello Nikita Zaitsev is this month your month?
**Congrats to the first like and retweet contest winner @CalebJakenson, hope you and your friends enjoy this Sunday’s Marlies game!