Toronto Maple Leafs: Number-One in the NHL Standings

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs plays the puck against Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on February 11, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs plays the puck against Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on February 11, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are first in the NHL standings.

After eight games, the Toronto Maple Leafs lead the NHL with 12 points. It is a great start for the team that few believed in.

The NHL season is underway and while the Montreal Canadiens are getting all the hype (for playing Vancouver and Edmonton, almost exclusively) it is the Leafs who are in first place.  Sure, the Habs have a higher winning percentage, but who’s counting?

The Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames for the second straight game on Tuesday night, and while the results have been excellent, the process has left a lot to be desired.

Toronto Maple Leafs Are in First Place

The Leafs are 6-2, which is a great start.  This is a 61 win pace, which would be just one off the NHL record, over a full season (1995-96 Detroit Red Wings)…which is to say that even the Leafs biggest supporters (basically, me) don’t think they’ll keep this kind of pace for a full season.

Still, it’s a hell of a start. The best part is that the Leafs haven’t played particularly well, but we know that eventually they will. Tonight’s game was another example of them winning with somewhat uninspiring play.  The first period of the game last night was amazing (Calgary had one shot) but after that, the Leafs were mostly terrible.

The way I reason it is like this: The team is getting excellent results after a stretch of games (i.e last year’s playoffs) where they didn’t get the results they deserved. Everything balances out.

In my opinion, the Leafs are definitely going to start playing better. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner haven’t really scored 5v5 like they can and will.  The shooting percentage and save percentage of the team is bound to rise.

Eventually, the Leafs are going to find a lineup that clicks. Eventually they will become comfortable in their abilities as an offensive powerhouse.  They will get healthy.  They will go on a PDO bender.

When these things happen, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be impossible to beat, and the fact that they opened the season at a near-record pace will only be a bonus that pays extreme dividends down the line.

This team is going places. I can’t guarantee it because goalies will get you every time. But I believe it. 

I think the Leafs have the talent, the elite players, the grinders, the depth, the special teams and the goalies to get it done. I think they’re going to build confidence from this early run and convert that into a kind of dominance rarely seen in this league.  Couple that with a fairly week division that they play exclusively, and I think we’re in for an amazing season.

Next. The Fractured Ribs of Despair. dark

And if not, hey, it was a great start.