We'll also review the team's progress against other teams in the Division over the past month.
We'll also try to assist Maple Leafs fans in keeping up with the latest news by looking at the scoressheet and focusing on the leaders. We will also announce that Jake Muzzin's concussion problems aren't going away quickly and that he will be missing the last two games before the All-Star Break.
Item 1: Team Movement after these January Games
Only one Maple Leafs game remains in January, and there are two more games before the All-Star Break. Jack Campbell and Auston Matthews will be attending both of these games. These games are part of an unusual home-and-home back-to-back series against the New Jersey Devils. Tonight's game will mark the eleventh of the month for the team. The season will be finished after tonight's game. This will mark the 41st complete game of the season.
The Maple Leafs are currently at 7-2-1 despite their COVID-19 issues and injuries, canceled games and restrictions on fans as well as their defensive/goaltending problems. They have scored 42 goals in those 10 games, which is 4.20 per game. And they have surrendered 29 goals (or 2.9 per game).
The team began January in third place in Atlantic Division with 44 points. This is two points less than the Florida Panthers, who had 44 points. They also had a game in their hands. Five points more than the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had three games left. The Detroit Red Wings were nine points behind the Maple Leafs at that point. Although the Boston Bruins were 12 points behind in fifth, they still had four games to play.
The Maple Leafs are now 10 points behind Florida and seven behind Tampa Bay, with five games remaining. With two more games left, the Bruins have moved up to fourth place after passing the Red Wings.
Item 2: January's Highest Scoring Maple Leafs
Alex Kerfoot was the Maple Leafs' top-scoring player in all 10 games in January. Although he only scored two goals and had 11 assists, he was worth 13 points. Auston Matthews is second in points with 12 points, followed by Morgan Rielly (10 points). Mitch Marner is tied with William Nylander for fourth place, having scored nine points in the 10 January games. Marner has only played seven of the 10 January games. With eight points, Michael Bunting and John Tavares round out the top five scorers. Ilya Mikheyev came in sixth place with seven points.
Kerfoot is the top-scoring goal scorer for the month, which may surprise some. Mikheyev is the leader with six goals. Matthews, Bunting and Marner are tied for second, with five goals each. John Tavares, Nylander and Marner have four goals each.
Item 3: Jake Muzzin's concussion symptoms are lingering
Jake Muzzin's concussion won't go away quickly and it's now clear that he will not play tonight or Tuesday against The Devils. After returning to the ice for a few sessions last Wednesday, Muzzin did not participate in today's morning skate.
Sheldon Keefe, Maple Leafs' head coach, stated that the team decided that the defenseman needed to step back in order to take advantage the All-Star break. He will then ramp things up again.
This move is logical. The Maple Leafs should be extra cautious when dealing with Muzzin. If he was unable to play, it would have a huge impact on the team's postseason plans. He could be subbed out of the next two games to allow him to rest and recover from the concussion.
What's next for the Maple Leafs
Tonight's game will be the Devils' first loss since November. They have lost four consecutive games and seven of their eight previous games. They are last in the Metropolitan Division, with a record of 15-23-5 and 35 points. In addition, they have a 2-8 record over their 10 previous games.
The Maple Leafs should win the game on paper. The Devils are capable of scoring goals, averaging 2.81 goals per game. The Devils are unable to keep the puck from their own net, and they give up 3.49 games per year, just like the Detroit Red Wings in the last competition.
We don't think the Maple Leafs will lose their focus as early in this game, like they did against Red Wings. But who knows what could happen. It will be interesting to see if Jack Campbell can close the Devils' door.