Toronto Maple Leafs: 4 storylines to follow versus Columbus Blue Jackets

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

1) Will it really be a level playing field in Toronto?

With Toronto being one of the hub cities for the return of hockey, there have been plenty of questions about a potential advantage for the Leafs. However, the NHL has made a point of stating that this will not be the case for them (or the Oilers in Edmonton).

Consider the words of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. As reported by Mike Zeisberger of, Bettman said:

"“A word of caution to them and for everybody to understand: (Toronto and Edmonton) have no home advantage. They are going to be subject to the same rules as everybody else. They’re going to be treated exactly the same, including as to when they get to and don’t get to use their locker rooms.”"

Understandably, the league is taking the matter seriously, to ensure a level playing field for all teams and avoid any perceived bias. This will extend to the Leafs and Oilers having no additional availability or access to their usual facilities at the main arena or practice rink, including gyms and weight rooms.

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Despite this, you can still make the argument there will at least be some advantage for the two hub city teams. If nothing else, they still have the familiarity that comes with playing on home ice and being used to the surroundings.

There may not be any fans attending games to attempt to influence the outcome. (No matter the deserved criticism which Leafs fans receive during the regular season for the atmosphere or lack thereof at Scotiabank Arena, they do step it up in the playoffs.) However, the two hub city teams still have the benefit of playing their games on home ice as opposed to on the road.

How much of an advantage any of this is for the Leafs and the Oilers remains to be seen, and people will argue that any such benefit will be minimal. Regardless, you would still rather be in Toronto and Edmonton’s position than any of the other 22 teams.

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Are there any other potential storylines you’re looking at in the play-in series versus Columbus? How confident are you about the Toronto Maple Leafs advancing to the playoffs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.