This thread has really dried up lately, so I'll add.
I have this feeling that the Leafs are going to finish in no Man's Land (as in 17th place) giving them a garbage draft pick and no playoffs.
I have no sympathy for the Bruins.
Also, I'm wondering if Matthews will emerge as a leader. For some reason I see Rielly wearing the "C" and Matthews wearing an "A".
And is me or can Auston Matthews not lift the puck off the ice on his shots?
Mitch Marner should be playing with Matthews, just imagine the points.
While I think Matthews and Marner would be a good combination in the future I don't think it would work right now at all. With them on 2 different lines the Leafs have 2 lines that are very real offensive threats. Something they haven't had for over 10 years.
As for Matthew's shots I think he just has a high preference for aiming his shots for the corners just above the pads. It is a very sound tactic as most goalies are holding their gloves and blocker up rather than down against the pads. That said most of his pretty goals have been top of the net shots.
I don't know the locker room feel of the Leafs (something Babcock can see all too well being the coach) but I can easily see Matthews getting the C within 2 years.
I still don't think the Canadiens actually have improved much at all from last season (besides Price being back) and may actually be a worse team than last year. That may sound ridiculous but even when they weren't into it late last season they weren't getting trounced like they have at least 3 times this season. Twice with Price in net. The team defensively at times just gets soft and when it gets bad it gets really bad. I don't think I can recall a top team being so bad when they don't play well. Thankfully for them that doesn't happen too often.
I think Carolina looks to be the dark horse team that can be the surprise team in the East. They have been very stingy defensively and they have been creating chances offensively up to this point. The only real problem is that they are not finishing. If they do start scoring they will actually become a rather dangerous team.
I think the biggest thing that killed the Sabers was Eichel's injury before the season began. He missed the first 20 games and the impact was very noticeable. Yeah they were just under 500 without him but it was a real fight for the team in a lot of those games. I really think had Eichel not gotten hurt the Sabers would likely be holding a playoff spot currently if not just a few points back. They are only 9 points behind the Islanders (of all teams the Islanders hold the second wildcard) so I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't have found at least another 6 or 8 points somewhere in those games without Eichel. I don't think the Sabers would have made the playoffs still but they are very much on the cusp. They just need one or two defensemen in my mind to be a playoff team.
As for the Leafs I see only one problem in regards to them making the playoffs. The teams in front of them. The Islanders, Sens and Bruins are or have been playing very well as of late. They have to beat one of those teams in a race to the playoffs and I am just not sure that one of those teams is going to falter and give the Leafs the chance they would need. I would like to see the Leafs and Sabers in the postseason but I think we will have to wait until next season.