The Islanders and Maple Leafs faceoff in Toronto tonight — more on that in the pre-game later — but neither team has been in quite this position in a long time. Both teams faced off in a memorable series in 2001-02, which seems like a lifetime ago now, and neither has had much success since. (If you’re looking for more from that series, the Toronto Sun has a list of Top 5 Isles/Leafs moments). If they both qualify for the post-season this year, it’ll be the first time in nearly ten years they’ll both qualify in the same year.
Both teams made the playoff in the two years following that series, 02-03 and 03-04, but since the lockout wiped out the ensuing season, they’ve combined for one playoff appearance. Sometimes not spending money does a team in, and sometimes having all the money in the world and not knowing what to do with it has a similar effect. But now, both teams have young talent and playoff aspirations.
The Leafs have Phil Kessel and great young players that whose names you should learn if you haven’t already such as Nazem Kadri (41 points), James van Riemsdyk (16 goals) and James Reimer (.925 sv pct). The Islanders, well you know them pretty well, with some Tavares guy and Travis Hamonic and others.
Things are looking up for both clubs, and hopefully the visitors can add an important two points tonight.
MARK STREIT WOULD LIKE 3-POINT GAMES
Jesse Spector at the Sporting News caught up with the Isles captain and picked his brain about giving regulation wins an extra point. It’s a pretty much a no-brainer that they NHL this needs to change, but with playoff races tight and parity all over the standings, the league hasn’t budged on the issue so far.
“A lot of teams, they win in shootouts because they’re really good at it, and I think Jersey was one of those teams last year,” Streit said. “That’s a lot of extra points. I think you deserve better if you win in 60. I like that system better.”