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Six Reasons to Get Excited About this Maple Leafs’ Postseason Chances

This season’s Toronto Maple Leafs team is good. In fact it’s good enough to make a postseason run. What does the team have going for it?

In this post, I’ll share six reasons for Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans to get excited about the team this season.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-2 Win Over the Flyers

Reason One: The Evolution of Matthews, Marner, and Nylander

The growth of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander has been a major contribution to the success of this season’s Maple Leafs’ team. It also offers fans considerable reason to prepare for postseason success. 

Reason Two: Matthews and Marner Have Changed Their Games

Matthews and Marner have changed their games for the better. Matthews isn’t just scoring from distance; instead, he’s crashing the net more often and scoring in a variety of ways. Marner has also started to shoot more and, like Matthews, crash the net. Marner’s emergence as a scorer helps take some of the pressure off Matthews.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs

Nylander’s game has ramped up as well. He too is engaging the front of the net more. All three players are playing differently (and better) than they have in the past. 

Reason Three: General Manager Kyle Dubas Has Added the Right Talent

During the offseason and at the trade deadline, Maple Leafs’ General Manager Kyle Dubas worked to build a strong team. The Core Four has always been there, but this season he’s brought in a strong group of complementary players to augment this core. 

Specifically, signing Michael Bunting, David Kampf, and Ondrej Kase during the offseason has turned out well. Although Kase has been injured much of the season, the other two are having career seasons.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs 1
Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs talks deadline plans

Finally, Dubas made three strong additions at the trade deadline when he added Ilya Lyubushkin and Mark Giordano on defense and forward Colin Blackwell. The two defensemen have helped solidify the defense. In addition, Giordano has been especially effective as an on-ice tutor. 

Reason Four: The Organization’s Depth Players Are Growing Into Their Roles

The Maple Leafs have also developed several players who are emerging into stars. That group includes two players who have been with the team for a few seasons – Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall. Both are having career seasons. 

As well, two rookies have begun to emerge on the defensive end. Those two players are Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Lilygren. They remain rookies, but they show great potential.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-2 Win Over the Islanders

Reason Five: The Maple Leafs Are a More Physical Team

This season’s team plays a far more physical style of hockey than teams in the recent past. Teams can no longer count on muscling or intimidating the Maple Leafs. Instead, they are finding that Toronto is pushing back.

Again, Dubas did a good job to increase the team’s physical play with the organization’s off-season signings and trade-deadline additions to the team. Michael Bunting, for example, is irritating to play against and draws numerous penalties.

Reason Six: The Goaltending Seems to Have Come Around

Starting goalie Jack Campbell is now completely healthy and seems to have found his game. He’s playing like he did at the start of the season. Now the task is to see if he can sustain that good play into the postseason.

In Total, This Team Is More Prepared for the Postseason

This particular team might be the best-balanced lineup the Maple Leafs have had in many seasons. The goaltending looks good. The team defense is the best it’s been in my memory. The forward group is both skilled and deep.

Ilya Mikheyev, Maple Leafs

The team’s young stars are growing more mature and getting better with experience. This is a team that might be playing in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve shown they can beat all of the best teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Furthermore, it’s a group that has a good chance to get out of the first round of the playoffs – regardless of who they play.

This team could create some momentum during the post-season. 

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Playoff Ready, Matthews, Marner, Giordano & The Bear

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Afp1961

    April 21, 2022 at 7:43 am

    Totally ageee Jim.
    Would add with six players at 60+ points this season the balanced scoring is also there. Add in the veteran leadership of Spezza Giordano and even Simmonds who are nit afraid or intimidated by the big stage and we are seeing a solid team take shape.

    Let’s just hope Jack doesn’t break.

    GLG

    • Old Prof

      April 21, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Good point – thanks for the addition –

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