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Five Keys for Maple Leafs’ Postseason Success

As the Toronto Maple Leafs head toward the postseason, what five keys are there to the team’s playoff success? What does the team need to do?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have improved their team defense and goaltending. As a result, the team is more balanced heading toward the postseason.

Still, for the best chance at postseason success, there’s no doubt that general manager Kyle Dubas will seek to make the kinds of changes he feels need to be made to improve the team.

Area One: Improving the Team’s Blue Line

One of those areas is on the defense. Few would have looked ahead and guessed that the team’s blue line would be as good as it has been. Yet, despite the impressive play of the young defensemen, the team’s defense needs more experience.

In the postseason, there’s a ton of pressure on the defense because the forechecking is intensified. While the team’s defense has been outstanding most of the season, it’s no surprise that reports suggest the organization is looking to strengthen its defensive depth.

Rasmus Sandin, Maple Leafs

If Jake Muzzin were healthy, it might be a different story. However, he isn’t. That leaves the Maple Leafs searching for experienced roster upgrades to compete in the tough Atlantic Division. Improving the team’s defense by adding experience, toughness, and calmness to the blue line will be key.


Area Two: Finding More Balanced Scoring

A second area that needs improving is secondary scoring. The upside of the Maple Leafs’ offense is that the team has elite forwards – it would be tough to lay out four top-six forwards more competent than Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. In addition, no one can fault the play of the complementary pieces on the top two lines – Michael Bunting and Calle Jarnkrok. Both add to the mix.

However, the truth is that the team’s bottom six are not as prolific in scoring as some – most of – the other contenders in the Eastern Conference. As a result, balanced offensive consistency is needed to produce consistent scoring production throughout the lineup.

Area Three: Stability in the Crease

At the start of the season, most fans believed the team’s goalie play would be the tipping point for the team’s success or failure on the season. Not only has the goalie play held up, but Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray have been one of the better tandems in the entire NHL.

Matt Murray Maple Leafs

Still, the team’s goaltending will be a concern – until it isn’t. There’s always in the back of everyone’s mind the fact that the goalies – who seem great most of the time – might become a ticking bomb. That leaves goaltender stability an issue. Maintaining both goalie’s strong play and building a solid foundation of scoring and defense around them is key.

Related: Maple Leafs Future Will Determine Dubas’ Deadline Deals

Area Four: Maintaining and Improving Better Special Team’s Play

The Maple Leafs have the talent on both special team units to be successful. Certainly, the team ought to be able to score with the man advantage. As well, the team has strong penalty killers. Putting it all together will be a challenge.

As a result, special teams’ improvement must improve to ensure success. For the Maple Leafs to have their best chance at a long postseason run, they must improve their power-play efficiency and penalty-killing success rate.

Area Five: Staying Healthy

So much of postseason success is luck. The Maple Leafs could improve in each of the above four areas, but an injury to one or two of the key players could kibosh the possibility of a long postseason run. As a result, maintaining the team’s health is key.

That likely means protecting key players and managing their workloads. Mark Giordano is a case in point. He’s been one of the most effective Maple Leafs’ players this season. However, he’s also the oldest skater in the NHL. He’s an aging but still highly-effective defenseman. The team needs to manage his workload so he isn’t running on fumes by the time the postseason begins.

Mark Giordano Maple Leafs
Mark Giordano Maple Leafs

He’s not alone. Personal and individual bests might not correlate to long-term team success. Coaching wisdom is needed. Maple Leafs’ players need to be fresh as possible.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: McMann’s Speed & Liljegren’s IQ

To my mind, these are the five key areas the Maple Leafs should focus on as they move toward the end of the season and prepare for the playoffs.



  1. Pingback: Jim Rutherford Denies Rumors Of His Leaving the Canucks

  2. gfinale

    February 8, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    I have seen absolutely NO good load management happen with the Leafs heading toward the playoffs in all the Dubas/Keefe years…even with all of the discussion about it every year!!

  3. Pingback: Jim Rutherford Refutes Reports Of His Leaving the Canucks | Gems Hockey

  4. Pingback: Bring on Tampa Bay: But Let's Start the Series in Toronto

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