5 New Year’s Resolutions Bound to Benefit Maple Leafs Through 2021

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 07: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his third period goal at 16:54 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 07, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 07: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his third period goal at 16:54 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 07, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 09: Columbus Blue Jackets shake hands with the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

Resolution #1: Maple Leafs Make the Playoffs

At the time, earning a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs seemed to put the organization ahead of schedule. Regardless of the Calder Memorial Trophy-winning season from rookie sensation Matthews, the postseason wasn’t necessarily a realistic goal before that year’s first puck drop.

With that said, their First Round loss to the Washington Capitals in 2017 was far from a disappointment. Just being there, for the first time since 2013, meant their development was heading in the right direction. They even found a way to extend the series to six games and force overtime in five of them.

Naturally, things were looking up throughout the following season. After earning 105 points in 2017-18, expectations realistically rose for the 2018 Playoffs. Until they faced another First Round exit. Back to the drawing board, looking forward to a fresh start to the now anticipated annual postseason appearance.

Entering the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it felt as though another year of growth would blossom into a furthered push as they faced a familiar foe in the Boston Bruins for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, again, they failed to find a way into the Second Round.

Seeming like things could only look up from there, this team found a new level of losing. First off, 2019-20 presented far more of a challenge than it should have for Toronto’s type of talent. They struggled to maintain their eighth-place finish and barely squeaked into 2020’s uniquely structured postseason.

They’d have to get through the ninth-seed Columbus Blue Jackets in a qualifying round, to then enter the more traditional 16-team tournament bracket. Despite a historic comeback that forced a deciding Game 5, Toronto once again couldn’t do enough to extend their journey.

Following such disappointment, there were obvious areas of their game that needed to be addressed. Management was active this offseason, in hopes of closing those holes with some clever acquisitions. With even more tools now available to construct a successful campaign, Toronto’s lineup has far fewer excuses heading into next season.

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There is no denying that this is still a relatively young team. However, their collective tenure in the league is approaching a level of experience that demands greater achievements. Besides, there’s only so much re-working that can be done before the plan has to be judged accordingly.

Resolution: Now is the time for this lineup to enter their prime, before it’s too late and they find themselves past it. Their stars need to become elite, with strategies that rise above the competition. First thing’s first, they need to actually make the playoffs to then compete for a furthered push. (All stats from  hockeyreference.com)

Next. Vezina or Bust for Freddie Next Season. dark

Despite a disappointing conclusion to the 2019-20 campaign, there is a lot to be optimistic about for the Maple Leafs. Their collective capabilities, from proven veterans to up and coming prospects, is amongst the best in the league. Making good on these key resolutions will undoubtedly lead this team to a level of success they haven’t experienced in decades.