The Toronto Maple Leafs have a talented roster with talented forwards such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares. They currently hold onto second position in the Atlantic Division.
While goaltending has been a concern for the Maple Leafs in the past, the two goalies they have this season are playing better than expected. Ilya Samsonov has done the bulk of the heavy lifting; and, when he’s been healthy, Matt Murray has also shown flashes of his past success.
Recent trades have improved both the team’s forward units and the team’s defense. These newcomers add to the talent on the team that’s already there.
Many Maple Leafs’ fans – including me – believe this team has a chance to do well in the postseason. In fact, based on their current performance, roster, and trade additions the team has the potential to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Can Toronto Make It To The Stanley Cup Finals?
In the video below, Albert Vartanian joins Sports Grid’s Scott Ferrall to discuss the playoff potential of the Maple Leafs.
What Does Vartanian Say About the Maple Leafs’ Chances?
Vartanian notes that the Maple Leafs have to work with the roster they have. And, while they don’t have a goalie as good as Andrei Vasilevskiy or a defenseman as good as Victor Hedman, the team has improved their strengths and worked to address their weaknesses. He believes they have built a team that could compete for the Stanley Cup.
However, although the Maple Leafs have made strides to improve their roster and address their weaknesses, they might not have the same level of depth as a team like Tampa Bay has. According to Vartanian, they have the talent to compete with any team in the league if one thing happens. Will Auston Matthews show up and lead his team?
What Does Matthews Need to Do?
Vartanian mentions that the Maple Leafs’ top-six forwards are strong and the team’s defense has improved. They also have one of the top offensive talents in the NHL. That’s Matthews.
Matthews needs to be a top player and perform at a high level in these upcoming playoffs. He’s been one of the most dominant goal-scorers in the NHL in recent years, and last season scored 60 goals and won both the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. According to Vartanian, his performance will be the key factor if the Maple Leafs will have success in this season’s playoffs.
Can Matthews Do It When the Pressure Is On?
While Matthews has slowed down slightly this season, according to Vartanian, he’s still among the league’s elite players. He can score and put up points. Can he now perform in high-pressure situations, such as scoring series-winning goals to lead the Maple Leafs to their first series win in many seasons?
According to the video, he’s one hockey analyst believes the Maple Leafs have done enough to put themselves in a position where they have a serious chance to beat Tampa Bay. He also believes Kyle Dubas has made some smart moves to improve the team’s roster. What the team now needs is Matthews to come through.
Beating the Lightning Won’t Be Easy, and the Playoffs Are Unpredictable
Of course, beating the Lightning will not be an easy task. They are recent Stanley Cup champions; and, they continue to have a talented roster with depth at most positions. But the Maple Leafs also have the talent and depth to compete with any team in the league. Vartanian believes they can perform at a high-enough level to come out on top in a playoff series against Tampa Bay if Matthews leads the way.
The fact is that Vartanian might be completely wrong. The Maple Leafs are not simply a one-man show. They have other talented players besides Matthews who can step up in the playoffs, including Nylander, Marner, and Tavares. The Maple Leafs will need their top players to perform, but they also need contributions from their entire roster to make a deep playoff run.
The Playoffs Are Unpredictable
Ultimately, the playoffs are unpredictable. Many factors come into play. Playoff success often comes down to these factors: strong goaltending, solid defense, and timely scoring. The Maple Leafs have players who can make those contributions.
But it would sure be nice if Matthews had the postseason of his life. If that happened, the team can make a deep playoff run.
Related: TAKING A MINUTE TO APPRECIATE MAPLE LEAFS’ AUSTON MATTHEWS
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