Toronto Maple Leafs: Who Will Be the Playoff X-Factor?

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are about to face each other in the NHL playoffs for the first time in 42 years.

It is a shame that both fan bases have had to wait this long for these two long-time rivals to battle each other on their quest for the Stanley Cup – the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t met the Habs in a playoff series since 1979.

The good news is we are just days away from the start of what should be a very entertaining battle between two of the NHL’s oldest teams.

Each team has its superstar players, but who will be the X-Factor(s) for each team in the first round? Here is a look at who I believe those players will be for each team.

The X-Factor For The Toronto Maple Leafs

While thinking of which players from the Toronto roster could become an x-factor in this first-round series, two names came to mind.

The first is Jack Campbell. He is going to have to find a way to play as well as he did during the regular season and maybe even better. If he can do that, he could be the x-factor that helps the Maple Leafs advance to the second round for the first time since 2004.

He has benefitted from having a Toronto team that is playing better defensively than they have in years past. It will require a whole team effort to win this series, but at the end of the day, Campbell needs to shut the door for the Leafs to win this series.

The second player who comes to mind is Nick Foligno. Foligno was acquired at the trade deadline to help give the Toronto Maple Leafs a bit more physicality and make the team harder to play against.

Having his bulldog-like mentality when it comes to winning puck battles does make the team better and harder to play against.  Add that with the fact that he likes to be physical and hit could make a big difference in this series.

Since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, Foligno has averaged three to four hits a game. After watching him play against Toronto in last year’s play-in round with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he will have no problem doubling his hits per game in these games that matter the most.

Both of these players will hold a key role in helping Toronto advance to the second round.

The X-Factor For The Montreal Canadiens

Just like the Maple Leafs, I think a big x-factor for the Canadiens will be their goaltender. Carey Price is known for being able to steal a game or two for his team.

He might have to do just that if Montreal is to have a chance at making it out of the first round. The biggest question surrounding Price is his health. He is returning from a concussion, Montreal will be hoping he’s 100% healthy.

Another player from Montreal who has the potential to be an x-factor in this series is Nick Suzuki. Suzuki is coming off his second 41 point season and is a big part of Montreal’s offense.

He will be counted on heavily in this series to be productive. He had seven points in ten playoff games last season for Montreal, and he’ll need to be just as productive or better to help the Canadiens advance to the second round.

Final Thought

I think either of these four players has the potential to be an x-factor in this series, but the truth is, it could be anybody. it could be a veteran player who steps up or a rookie wanting to make a name for himself.

Next. 1st Round Playoff Predictions. dark

Whatever happens in this series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, it is sure to be an entertaining matchup.