At this time of the year, the Toronto Maple Leafs look back on all of the memories that were made last season.
Some were good, some were bad for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were eliminated in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs once again.
The worst part for Toronto – witnessing the Boston Bruins go to the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues Stanley Cup win was from exceptional work ethic (last on Jan. 2nd to making the playoffs in April), speed, skill and what Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock likes most: heaviness.
“It wasn’t pixie dust, it wasn’t a miracle – they were that good,” says Babcock prior to the Leafs clash against the Blues, “they’ve had lots of playoff disappointments over a number of years.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone through three playoff disappointments in a row – with two courtesy of the Bruins. While it’s disappointing for every team, it’s something each player has to go through.
“We feel like it’s our time,” says a smirking Auston Matthews when being asked about Babcock’s rallying cry called ‘it’s our time’, “I think it says exactly what it means.”
How can the Maple Leafs have a Stanley Cup run like the Blues?
It starts with one word – belief.
You have to believe that you can win. When the Blues were dead last in the NHL in January, they didn’t say “it’s time to tank,” they said, “it’s still possible.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs need that belief within their group. If there’s none, it won’t propel them to the place they want to be.
One problem that needs to be solved for the Maple Leafs is their start time within games. In two games this season, the opposing team has scored within the first minute and eight seconds.
A small sample size, yet a big problem in the past.
Everyone has witnessed Toronto have a game where the opposition has scored first, which made the Maple Leafs claw their way back if it was possible. But, the problem has never really been fixed.
Fans don’t expect teams to come out flying every night. Some games are more exciting for the players, while others are played likely without any emotion.
If the team that’s been eliminated in the first-round three straight years figures out how to start on time, a championship parade will ensue in the future.
Every aspect of winning the Stanley Cup revolves around belief. If there’s no belief from the players, there’s no chance of making a deep playoff run. For now, it sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs believe, but they need to show it both on, and off the ice to prove they’re ready to take the next step.