Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Stars Shine Brighter than the Blue Jackets?

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 15: Jack Campbell #36, Mitchell Marner #16, Auston Matthews #34 and Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate their win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on February 15, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 15: Jack Campbell #36, Mitchell Marner #16, Auston Matthews #34 and Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate their win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on February 15, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs will resume play against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first series of the proposed 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One of the things to make so hockey great is that optimal success requires a collective effort. The best teams illustrate cohesion more consistently than those chasing them.

When you add the parity of today’s game into the equation, it makes sense that there are so few points separating first from the worst of any given season. Which is why every team’s initial goal is to simply make it into the playoffs. From there, anything truly can happen.

Kicking Off These Playoffs

With the eighth seed Maple Leafs set to take on the ninth seed Blue Jackets in the play-in round, if the playoffs do proceed as has been proposed, it could be expected that it’ll be a close match the whole way through.

Both teams will have been afforded much-needed rest, hoping to get players back from injury who they may not otherwise have seen again throughout this season.

Success throughout the playoffs requires a full team approach. Sure, there are the lesser-known depth players that make their mark during every championship run. But there’s no denying that a squad’s superstars need to lead the way.

Let’s take a closer look at the elite level talent on both teams, relative to production from each respective position.

Toronto Maple Leafs

C – Auston Matthews
RW – Mitch Marner
LW – Zach Hyman
RD – Tyson Barrie
LD – Morgan Rielly
G – Frederik Andersen

Scoring Regular Season Table
ScorScorScorScorScorScorGoalGoalGoalGoalAssiAssiAssi
RkPlayerAgeGPGAPTS+/-PIMEVPPSHGWEVPPSHSS%BLKHIT
2Auston Matthews22704733801983512052013029016.26040
3Mitch Marner2259165167616106023218115410.43724
4Tyson Barrie287053439-7164100231101693.07647
5Zach Hyman2751211637132317311133010619.82352
6Morgan Rielly254732427624300217701232.46738

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2020.

Goalies Regular Season Table
GoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoal
RkPlayerAgeGPGSWLT/OSV%GAASO
1Frederik Andersen30525229137.9092.853

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2020.

Columbus Blue Jackets

C – Pierre-Luc Dubois
RW – Oliver Bjorkstrand
LW – Nick Foligno
RD – Seth Jones
LD – Zach Werenski
G – Elvis Merzlikins

Scoring Regular Season Table
ScorScorScorScorScorScorGoalGoalGoalGoalAssiAssiAssi
RkPlayerAgeGPGAPTS+/-PIMEVPPSHGWEVPPSHSS%BLKHIT
2Pierre-Luc Dubois2170183149-24917104229015811.45085
3Zach Werenski226320214191014514138018710.75836
4Oliver Bjorkstrand244921153681218305123016213.01643
5Nick Foligno3267102131-362820118211317.650212
6Seth Jones2556624301020420016711264.812362

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2020.

Goalies Regular Season Table
GoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoalGoal
RkPlayerAgeGPGSWLT/OSV%GAASO
2Elvis Merzlikins2533311398.9232.355

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2020.

Based on the more physical categories, like hits and blocks, it would seem that Columbus has the edge.  Their top stars also seemingly play more aggressively, if penalty minutes are any indication.  Keep in mind the Toronto Maple Leafs are built around a philosophy that these things are overrated in hockey.

The shot totals amongst their top stars may average out to be similar, but Toronto clearly capitalizes with more regularity. And it’s impossible to not give the power play advantage to the Maple Leafs.

As for goaltending, the Blue Jackets got to benefit from the hot start of Merzlinkins as he began his career. But his play, and his numbers, have since cooled off. His sample size is also limited, while Andersen has maintained consistency in his crease throughout most of the season.

Of course, post-season success isn’t decided solely on individual stats throughout any given season. And the best players from either side might not even be on the ice at the same time together.

But there is value in recognizing the top-level of talent throughout any given team, as it often paints a picture of that roster’s overall potential.

Next. If Toronto Beats Columbus, They Shouldn't Fear Boston. dark

With the names that lead both lineups, and if they can collectively work for the crest on their chests, it’s easy to predict that the Toronto Maple Leafs will come out of this one victorious.