In Canada, hockey rules supreme. Canadians take their hockey as seriously as extremists/terrorists take suicide bombing. Whether Canadians like to admit it or not, most Canadians are Toronto Maple Leaf fans, but up until this year many of them were of the closet variety. The Leafs have been shitty for a long time, but heading into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers, the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of only two teams in the NHL yet to lose a game in regulation.
Now before we get ahead of ourselves and start planning Cup parades or even the playoffs, let’s remember that it’s extremely early in the NHL season and the Leafs still have plenty of time to turn back into the Laughs of old. But there are some glaring differences in this team that indicate that this year’s team isn’t like past years. Firstly their penalty killing, which used to be their Achilles heel, has vastly improved and heading into the tonight the Leafs were among the league’s best. Yes it’s early, but after starting the season a perfect 7-7 in PK’s there’s definitely some improvement.
The importance of the Leafs being competitive in the NHL for Canadians is similar to that of the Lakers and the Celtics being competitive in the NBA. It’s the biggest Canadian hockey market with the largest fan base, and for online sportsbooks it’s an opportunity to appeal to Canadian’s love for hockey and the Maple Leafs with attractive Team props and player props. Will Phil Kessel lead the league in goals? Will the Maple Leafs make the playoffs? Where will they finish in their division? While hockey isn’t the most bet on sport at this time with MLB postseason and NFL season in full swing, Canadians still care.