The 2021-22 NHL season is fast approaching for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and there are a handful of notable games on their schedule that all fans should be looking forward to this season. Whether the most exciting game to you is the Maple Leafs season opener or home opener, the game where they play a big rival, a game where they play the team that knocked them out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs the year prior… we won’t go there.
Anyways, this season is going to be a great one, not only because we fans get hockey back again, but it’s also an 82-game season and the normal divisions are back for the first time since the 2019-20 season. All in all, this season is filled with games that are must-watch if you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and I’m going to get into them right now.
Game 1: October 13, 2021 – Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
The first notable game on the Toronto Maple Leafs 2021-22 schedule is none other than their first game of the season which they play on home ice. What better way than playing your first game of the regular season against the same team that eliminated you from the first round of the playoffs the season prior, and of course, a long-time rival in the Montreal Canadiens as well.
This game will have multiple storylines, the first game of the season for both teams, a classic and historic rivalry in hockey that dates back over a hundred years that will once again be alive in Toronto, and of course, as I said, these two play each other for the first time since game 7 of the first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to open their season on a strong note as this season will be back to normal with the old divisions coming back and of course, the NHL going back to an 82 game schedule, so every game matters if you’re the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Game 2: November 4, 2021 – Tampa Bay Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
What’s better than not only playing a divisional rival for the first time in a very long time but playing against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning? This game in early November at Scotiabank Arena is sure to be a good one for people to tune into, that’s for sure. Not only are two great teams going head-to-head, but two of the leagues best offences will be looking to go off and make a statement.
This game will also be a good one for the Toronto Maple Leafs to compare themselves to the Tampa Bay Lightning because as a said earlier, they are the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions and everyone would love to beat the best. The last time these two teams played was in early March 2020, right before the league and other leagues around the world shut down due to COVID-19.
If you don’t exactly remember that game, the Maple Leafs pulled out a very impressive 2-1 over the Lightning in regulation on home ice against the eventual 2020 Stanley Cup champions. After that game, that would be the last Maple Leafs game we would see for quite some time until the NHL introduced the bubble which had 24 teams involved in it. Nonetheless, the first matchup between the Maple Leafs and the Lightning should be a good one to watch if you’re a hockey fan!
Game 3: November 6, 2021 – Boston Bruins @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
What’s better than a Boston Bruin and Toronto Maple Leaf rivalry? These two will play each other on November 6th for the first time since November 15, 2019, when Boston defeated Toronto 4-2. That’s almost two full years since they’ve last met on the ice and I think fans are going to be very excited to watch this matchup.
Not only is this game the first meeting in almost two full years for both Original Six teams, but this game will also have a small handful of players playing their former teams for the first time since last season. For starters, Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase of the Toronto Maple Leafs will play their former team and Nick Foligno, who obviously didn’t have a lengthy stay in Toronto, will play the Maple Leafs for the first time since signing in Boston in free agency.
Nonetheless, this game will be very fun to tune into to see two Original Six teams who have a long history of playing each other play again for the first time in almost two full calendar years, and maybe the Maple Leafs could grab the first win of the series season as well.
Game 4: December 5, 2021 – Toronto Maple Leafs @ Winnipeg Jets – @ 7:00 PM ET
You may be thinking, why are the Winnipeg Jets on here? Well, they’re on here simply for the fact that in all honesty, it really felt like the Maple Leafs and Jets were slowly building a rivalry and a hatred for each other last season in the North Divison, and it was kind of entertaining to watch as a fan. The December 5th matchup in Winnipeg will be the first meeting between these two teams since the North Divison and this time, it’ll more than likely have fans in attendance, a lot more fans.
Maple Leafs and Jets games were never really that intense and interesting to watch other than when the Leafs choked that lead in Winnipeg years back and Patrik Laine carried the team on his back and ultimately scored the overtime winning goal to seal the victory for the Jets. Yeah, good times… Anyways, the North Division forced these two teams to play more than just twice a year, they played almost 10 times last season and it really formed a hatred between them last season and to be honest, I wonder if it’ll carry over into next season even though they will go back to playing each other only twice.
Remember when Mitch Marner scored that goal against them and Neal Pionk came out of nowhere and tried taking Marner’s head off with a late hit? Well, he didn’t succeed and Marner had a few words for Pionk afterwards. That was really was made things escalate in my opinion, and I’m excited to watch these two high flying offences faceoff again in early December.
Game 5: December 19, 2021 – Toronto Maple Leafs @ Seattle Kraken – @ 9:00 ET
This is going to be a game you are going to want to tune into. The first game against the newest 32nd franchise in the NHL, the Seattle Kraken, and it’s in Seattle too! Just like when Vegas entered the league during the 2017-18 season, playing against a brand new team in the league is fun to watch, especially if there are some former players of your team on that roster as well.
Whether Seattle will have the same success as Vegas did in their first year, this season should be exciting for not only Kraken fans, but for fans of hockey in general as we get to witness another inaugural season. Must I also add, we fans get to watch former Leaf, Jared McCann play against Toronto for the first time since being selected in the expansion draft by Seattle. All jokes aside, it sucks we didn’t end up keeping McCann, but that’s obviously out of our control.
Nonetheless, the first game against a brand new team in the NHL will always be a must-watch if you’re a fan of hockey or of course, the fan of the team the new team is playing that night.
Game 6: January 1, 2022 – Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
The next notable game on the schedule takes place on New Year’s Day when the Toronto Maple Leafs host another divisional rival in what’s known as “The Battle of Ontario”. This may not be the most intriguing game out of the other nine, but I felt like it was worthy enough to talk about it given that these two teams, just like the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins, have a history with each other with all the meetings between them.
Also, when was the last time the Maple Leafs played a game on New Year’s Day besides the outdoor games annually? These two are playing in a regular arena on January 1st, 2022 and to be honest, that’s going to be kind of weird to me because I’m used to Toronto playing sometimes on New Year’s Eve instead. But I’m all for a Battle of Ontario game to start the brand new year on home ice.
With Toronto in win-now mode and the Ottawa Senators ready to start slowly pushing for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Divison, these games are going to be more intense and more meaningful for not just the Maple Leafs, but the Senators as well. It’s going to be very fun to watch the season series this coming season, that’s for sure.
Game 7: January 3, 2022 – Carolina Hurricanes @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:30 PM ET
Ah yes, the moment all Maple Leafs fans are waiting for, the return of Frederik Andersen to Toronto. This is going to be a very emotional game for fans, the players in Toronto who were teammates of Andersen, and of course, Frederik Andersen himself as he was the goalie for this team for five years and had some terrific seasons here before he started to fall off a bit.
What Andersen did for this team, often gets overlooked because of how poor the last season and a half was for him with the Maple Leafs, but his first three and a half seasons in Toronto was absolutely sensational. He had Vezina type seasons with the franchise and was literally the backbone of this team for three straight years. He would constantly bail them out game after game it seemed like, but clearly injures caught up to him and slowed him down in the last two seasons and it showed in his stats.
Whether he gets the start or not in this game, (which he probably will) I assure you when his video tribute is playing on the jumbotron that night, he is going to be getting a huge standing ovation for everything he has done for the Maple Leafs in the five years he was here. Knowing the Maple Leafs, Andersen will probably post a shutout too.
Game 8: January 5, 2022 – Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
Just like Frederik Andersen’s return to Toronto for the first time since signing in Carolina, the next game on their schedule will be the return of Zach Hyman to Toronto for the first time since he signed in Edmonton. And in the exact same fashion, Hyman will without a doubt receive a loud standing ovation from the crowd when his video tribute is on the jumbotron playing.
Hyman, just like Andersen spent at least half a decade here in Toronto and quickly became one of the Leafs that a lot of fans loved and enjoyed watching him play. His playstyle, dedication, heart, and everything else he put out there on the ice, was second to none and everyone greatly appreciates everything that he did for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s pretty cool that he got to play with Matthews and Marner and now he’s off to the Oilers playing with McDavid and Draisaitl, let’s just hope the Leafs can shut them down that game though.
Nonetheless, Zach Hyman’s return to Toronto is going to be awesome to see. I cant wait to see his reaction to the fans showing him love and appreciation when the video tribute is playing in the arena.
Game 9: March 13, 2022 – Toronto Maple Leafs @ Buffalo Sabres – @ 3:00 PM ET
Despite this game being against the Buffalo Sabres, it’s going to be a great game to watch simply because one, the Battle of the QEW, and two, it’s the 2022 Heritage Classic and they’re going to be playing in Hamilton, Ontario! Although the game is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Buffalo is listed as the home team and has been ever since the schedules released way prior to the announcement of this outdoor game being announced.
No matter who is playing, outdoor games are always fun to watch, and they’re even more fun when your favourite team is involved, of course. Buffalo, just like some of the Maple Leafs’ other divisional rivals, Boston and Tampa, haven’t played each other in almost two full years because of COVID-19 and with the new divisional alignment last season.
Buffalo obviously hasn’t been the greatest of teams for a while now and with their key players like Ullmark, Reinhart and Ristolainen no longer on the team along with the whole Jack Eichel saga that is currently going on, it might look like an NHL team is playing an AHL team out there, but this is the Toronto Maple Leafs, after all, they’re the type of team to lose to a team like Buffalo when they’re supposed to walk all over them. However, it’ll be nice to see these two teams play outdoors in front of lots of fans cheering them on.
Game 10: April 29, 2022 – Boston Bruins @ Toronto Maple Leafs – @ 7:00 PM ET
This game really shouldn’t need that much explaining from me, it’s the last game of the regular season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and they close their season out against none other than another rival, the Boston Bruins at home. There should be a lot of meaningful games of hockey down the stretch in April and these two teams will definitely be in the mix with it in the Atlantic Division.