Toronto Maple Leafs: Can they finally end the streak?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 25: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 25: Auston Matthews /

Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens will be important for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they look to get back in the win column and end their losing streak against their rival.

If there is drought that Toronto Maple Leafs fans wished the team could overcome along with the infamous Stanley Cup drought, it would be their losing streak against the Montreal Canadiens.

The last time the Leafs won a game against their longtime rival was back in January 18, 2014 as they beat the Habs 5-3. Cody Franson, Phil Kessel, Mason Raymond, James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul were the goal scorers and Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves for the win.

It is safe to say a lot has changed since then and Toronto hopes that one thing changes this time around. The Canadiens have won the last 14 contests including 10 in regulation and while they are struggling to start the season, the Leafs are in no position to take them lightly.

After coming out with three straight wins to start the season, the Leafs were exposed defensively by the New Jersey Devils and have a chance to make a statement on Saturday night in Montreal.

In those 14 games that Montreal has won, eight have been decided by one goal so it is not like the Leafs have been dominated by Montreal. Going up against a world-class goalie like Carey Price in those close games is tough and a main reason why Montreal has come up on the winning end for the most part.

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However, this is not the same Habs team as their blueline took a major hit in the offseason and while they added a talented goal scorer in Jonathan Drouin, the team is struggling to find the back of the net. Alex Galchenyuk has been on the hot seat and there are rumours surrounding Marc Bergevin’s job security going forward.

So far Montreal has scored five goals this season and one way the Leafs will look to make improvements defensively is to try to limit the trips to the penalty box. It wears down the players that are being asked to play 12:45 a night on the PK and also take the responsibility at five-on-five. Also the more time the Leafs spend shorthanded that is time taken away from Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

If the Leafs want to finally overcome the streak they will need to remain disciplined which is something Mike Babcock spoke about on Friday. The Leafs coach also emphasized that he wants the team to be better structurally in front of Frederik Andersen while also getting a better performance from their netminder.

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If the Leafs can find a way to look after those details defensively it will be a close game and given Montreal’s struggles offensively Toronto should be able to end the streak.