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Why the Maple Leafs Will Beat the Canadiens and the Bruins in 2021-22

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had changes this season. But they will still beat the Canadiens and the Bruins this season. Why is that the case?

After a two-year hiatus, teams in the Atlantic Division will once again be competing against each other. Although I believe there will be a changing of the guard at the top of the Atlantic, the team’s order of finish will probably will be pretty similar to what it’s been over the last few seasons. 

That is, the top five teams will probably be the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Boston Bruins. However, I’m only going to look at two teams in the Division that I believe are sure to finish lower than the Maple Leafs in this post.

Those two teams are the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. First, I want to look a bit at why I believe the Maple Leafs will likely stay near the top of the Division – at least within the top three teams.

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The Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs are one of the teams in the very top tier of the Atlantic Division along with the two Florida-based teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup for the second season in a row last year, and will continue to play well. They have a great offense, a stellar defense, and good goalie play.

The Florida Panthers are the rising star in the Atlantic Division. They are young, have a great offense, have good-enough goalie play, and are really well coached.

However, it’s tough for any hockey fan not to appreciate the firepower Toronto has in strong young players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. John Tavares is apparently healthy and ready to play for the start of the season. The goaltending improved with the rise of Jack Campbell and the addition of Petr Mrazek from the Carolina Hurricanes.

John Tavares Auston Matthews
John Tavares Auston Matthews upper deck Maple Leafs

The only loss on defense was Zach Bogosian, but there are youngsters emerging – such as Rasmus Sandin – who should easily be able to take his place and even improve what was a solid blue line last season. T.J. Brodie was a great addition, and he’s still there.

The team will remain competitive because of its core. Like the idea or not of spending so much money on the top for offensive players, it means they’re still there. Other than Tavares, all of them are still growing towards maturity. They haven’t even begun to reach their prime yet.

Why Have the Canadiens Slipped?

I suspect that’s controversial, but I just don’t think the Montreal Canadiens can repeat their Cinderella season last season. I doubt they’ll make the playoffs. The losses of Shea Weber and Carey Price are simply too much to overcome. Prior to the Carolina Hurricanes’ signing of Jesperi Kotkaniemi I would have suggested that last season’s playoffs showed that the Canadiens have a strong group of young players who are likely on the way up and would develop further next season. Now, I’m not so sure. The young players remain – but the rest of the team seems in disarray.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Canadiens
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens are not as good without Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, and even the playoff savvy Corey Perry. In addition, they had to trade away their 2022 first-round draft choice for underrated center Christian Dvorak. That might work out OK for the immediate future, but might not be so good in the long run.  

Why Have the Bruins Slipped?

Die-hard Bruins’ fans will probably tell you that this season’s team will have improved goalie over last season, that they’ve  improved their bottom six, and that 22-year-old Jack Studnika will become a great center. Perhaps, the jury’s still out. 

Not that the Bruins don’t have some players. David Pasternak is strong. Patrice Bergeron is a keeper. And, like him or not, Brad Marchand comes to play. They’re aging. Two players on the Perfection Line are in their mid-thirties.

As well, will Taylor Hall stay motivated? Can Charlie Coyle and Jake Debrusk improve from their off seasons. Plus, although he wants to come back after his surgery, Tuukka Rask isn’t going to be good to go for a while. Second-line center David Krejci signed at home in Europe.

Boston Bruins Have Plans for Tuukka Rask Despite Linus Ullmark Signing

In short, this Bruins’ team has slipped since last season and I don’t think they have enough to win regularly. The Bruins are likely a team that will slip in the standings.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Former Employee Claims: It’s Not Kyle Dubas’ Fault

In the Atlantic, There’s a Changing of the Guard

In another post, I’ll talk about the two teams that are likely to be better than the Maple Leafs – the Panthers and the Lightning. However, two teams that will NOT be better than the Maple Leafs are the Bruins and the Canadiens. Those two strong teams from last season have slipped in quality and likely won’t make the playoffs this season.



  1. afp1961

    September 9, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Leafs will fight it out with Boston for 3rd in the Atlantic. Tampa and Florida are deeper, stronger, more balanced, better coached, better managed. While Ullmark is no slouch, if Boston can hold on without Rask until January they will take 3rd over the leafs. I think Taylor Hall all season on the 2nd Boston line is a big improvement, notwithstanding the loss of Krecji. Studnicka will also blossom more with the open roster spot. Leafs have little time to lose in integrating all the acquisitions and getting their goaltending into midseason form. Cannot afford to drop points in the early season thinking they can be recovered later. Not gonna happen in such a hotly contested division.

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