St. Louis Blues Opposition: The Toronto Maple Leafs


The St. Louis Blues have to play every team every season. Now we’re going to take a look at each team the Blues will face this year.

As we all know, the St. Louis Blues have to face each team in the NHL at least twice. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at each team in the NHL to give fans an idea of what to expect.

With the season a little over a month away and 29 other teams in the NHL, we’ll start off slow and build. So, we’ll start in the Eastern Conference and come closer as the season approaches.

Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished with the worst record in the NHL. This wasn’t a complete shock, but it was still surprising given that the team had Mike Babcock behind the bench and Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello in charge of the team.

However, there weren’t enough moves to be made to completely flip the Leafs fortunes last season. Now the team is hoping they’ve done enough to make some serious strides in year two of this building process.

Toronto has positioned itself quite well with their current offseason moves. The fans of the Leafs were extremely disappointed they were unable to land Steven Stamkos, but that may be a blessing in disguise.

Stamkos still has plenty of good years in front of him, but it can’t be argued that he’s had diminishing returns his last few seasons. He has also been hit with the injury bug as well.

The kind of contract the Maple Leafs were going to give Stamkos would all but demand the point totals he put up in 2009-12 and full seasons played. Toronto fans are notoriously unforgiving despite their relative lack of relevance in recent years.

In the end, the Leafs were able to save themselves a lot of money they will be able to spread across the team now and in the future instead of having it tied up in one man. For a team looking to rebuild, that is the smarter play, even if Stamkos would have made a great splash.

Key Additions

The Maple Leafs made their best additions at and prior to the NHL Draft. Clearly the big one was their top pick.

Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Auston Matthews poses for a photo. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Auston Matthews poses for a photo. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Leafs took Auston Matthews, who is expected to make a big impact right away. How much of a role he is forced to play for the team will be interesting.

Matthews has the talent, but he is only 18. Even when Sydney Crosby came into the league, he had Mario Lemieux to ease the transition. Toronto has some veterans, but Matthews is going to be seen as the guy by the public.

On top of the Matthews pick, the Leafs believe they have solidified their goaltending position with the addition of Frederik Andersen.

Andersen is coming off three great seasons with the Ducks. He compiled a record of 114-77-12. His average save percentage was .918 and a goals against of 2.33.

At 23, Andersen hasn’t even hit his full peak yet, which should bode well for Toronto. On the flip side, the Leafs have put their faith in several up and coming netminders recently only to still be searching in a year or two.

Toronto signed Matt Martin and brought back Roman Polak to complete their 2016 offseason.

Several sections, including fans and media, were puzzled by the contract Martin was given. Bringing back Polak is also a head scratcher. As Craig Custance points out though, if the team fails again, he is likely to garner anther draft pick.

Key Losses

Toronto kept their losses to a relative minimum this offseason. Michael Grabner and P.A. Parenteau were the only major names to bolt.

Grabner was a disappointment in his only season in Toronto. Parenteau’s loss will hurt, creating space on the wing and points lost. The Leafs are probably banking on Matthews being able to make up for most, if not all of that production though.

Season Outlook

Toronto almost has to be better in 2016-17 than they were the prior season. They will be.

Matthews has the potential to be a special player. Andersen is going to pick up some wins that were not there last season as well.

On the negative, Toronto would need a 20 game swing in the other direction to make the playoffs last season. There just hasn’t been enough turnaround for there to be that kind of change.

The Maple Leafs are going to be better than last year’s version. They will still miss the playoffs though. At this point, they need to focus on growing their young players and continuing the build.

Blues Games

It will actually be quite some time before the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs square off. The opposite-conference opponents play both of their games in February.

The Blues will host their Canadian foes on Thursday, February 2. The rematch will occur one week later on February 9.

The Blues hold the series record at 112-107-25. St. Louis has tended to win the games at home and dropped them on the road.

Despite Toronto’s lack of success in 2015-16, they dominated the Blues. St. Louis lost both games last year by scores of 4-1.

Next: The Blues Best To Wear 99-61

The Blues will look to rebound against Toronto this year. Andersen will make that difficult as he currently has a 4-2-0 record against the Note, albeit with a better team.

Toronto will be improved. The Blues are yet to show what they will be. Losing to Toronto did not hurt St. Louis last year, but beating them will be important this season as February is set to be difficult on paper.