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Mitch's Sports Report: Maple Leafs Set Franchise Record For Wins; It's Opening Day, So Play Ball!

In Toronto last night the Maple Leafs hit a milestone, recording the team's 46th win of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, and in doing so setting a franchise high mark for most regular season wins.

That's a pretty big deal for a squad that's been around since the earliest days of the NHL, what they call an Original Six team, and one that's seeking its first Stanley Cup since the same year the Boston Red Sox impossible dream team won the pennant and hippies in San Francisco celebrated what became known as the Summer of Love. Point is, 1967 is a long time ago and while Leafs fans were thrilled to see the team set a new record for most regular season victories, and most wins at home with 27, what they really want is the Cup to return to Ontario, and with the high powered offense they have this year, that's a dream no one would describe as impossible or even improbable.

It's also why, as a card carrying Bruins fan, I would dearly love to see the Bruins finish in first place in the eastern conference instead of second so they don't draw the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, which is what would happen if the season ended today.

Auston Matthews scored his 30th goal of the season in the win last night. James van Riemsdyk has been loving life in Leaf Land and he notched goal number 35 on the season while Mitch Marner scored one and added a helper in a game that despite the milestones achieved was more important for Florida than it was for Toronto. The Panthers are in desperation mode trying to sneak into the playoffs with the final wild card berth.

Entering the game they were three points back of the New Jersey Devils for that entry, and that's where they remain today after failing to pick up a point with just seven games left in the regular season.

The NY Rangers are just playing out the string and looking to the future after selling off many of their best players at the trading deadline. They lost to the playoff bound Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime in D.C.

The Colorado Avalanche had a golden chance, playing at home, to take over the last available wild card berth in the western conference but they lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers and remain one point behind Anaheim for that last playoff slot.

To the NBA, and Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris and Al Horford were all on the sidelines with injury, but those veteran players are only one part of the Boston Celtics success this season. The other factor is the kids, and with every step-up game they turn in, they gain experience and confidence, and last night one of the young gun Celtics lifted his team to its fifth straight win by hitting a 3-pointer with less than a second left to go in regulation for a 97-94 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Jaylen Brown capped off a 9-0 Celtics run over the last two and a half minutes of the game, a stretch in which the Boston defense didn't allow Utah to score a single bucket, by nailing a trey from straight away beyond the arc with 0.3 seconds left on the clock.

The win keeps the Celtics within striking distance of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the eastern conference at three games back, but more importantly, the contributions of players like Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier, who added 13 points last night, are proving the Celtics can win even without some of their best players on the court, with the knowledge that the team can only get better when they return.

And yes, today, though it's not even April yet, Major League Baseball opens its 2018 season with nearly every team in the league in action save the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, who've been postponed until tomorrow due to the weather.

I'll be talking in greater detail about predictions for this season later today at noon on Vermont Edition's baseball show with Bob Kinzel, but for the short version sports report I'll just say I think the Red Sox will have a good season, but not good enough to overcome a totally stacked NY Yankees team that I pretty much expect to go on and win the World Series.

They take on the Blue Jays in Toronto today. The Red Sox have a 4 o'clock matinee with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the NY Mets host the St. Louis Cardinals at 1pm. But no matter who wins it all this year, it sure feels good to say "play ball!"

 
 

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