Toronto Maple Leafs Could Easily Miss Playoffs This Season

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stretches with his CCM Jetspeed stick over his head (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stretches with his CCM Jetspeed stick over his head (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

As much as we all want the Toronto Maple Leafs to move past their First Round woes, getting there isn’t guaranteed this year.

Prior to the Auston Matthews Era, just making the playoffs was a big accomplishment for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, now that the team has made the postseason for five consecutive seasons, the fans have much bigger expectations for this group.

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are both under 25-years-old and have a minimum of three years left on their contract, so we shouldn’t hit the panic button, yet. One of these years, it’s all going to work out and the team is going to go on a magical run, but I wouldn’t bet on it being this year.

Leafs Nation understands the phrase “there’s always next year,” better than any other fanbase in the NHL and after the 2021-22 season, they’ll more than likely be saying that again.

Leafs Aren’t Guaranteed to Make Playoffs

When the NHL reformatted the division’s last year, it gave the Toronto Maple Leafs one of the biggest advantages in hockey. It guaranteed that the team wasn’t going to face the big-bad Boston Bruins in the First Round and they got to play the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks nine times per season.

By playing in the North Division, the Leafs didn’t have a huge foe, like in year’s past. Their biggest rival was supposed to be the Edmonton Oilers and the electric duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

But, as we all know, the unimaginable happened and the Leafs ultimately lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games after being up 3-1 in the series.

The Canadiens ultimately made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, and deserve credit for this, but it should have been Toronto who faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, instead.

Toronto was the No. 1 seed and had their best chance to advance past the First Round since 2004, but they failed to do so, like they always do. They ruined their chances and it’s unfortunately only going to get harder to replicate their regular season success next year.

Now that there’s a vaccine and boarder restrictions have lessened, the NHL decided to return to it’s old divisional structure, so Toronto’s Atlantic Division will look like this:

  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs

Of those teams, the Canadiens and Lightning both played in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, while the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins made the playoffs.

The Senators are still rebuilding, but they showed last year that they’re super hard to play against, while the Sabres and Red Wings will be two of the worst teams in the league.

Essentially, in order to make the playoffs, Toronto is going to have to be nearly perfect against Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa and will hope to split their games with the other four teams.

Not only that, but if one of Toronto’s star player’s get injured, they don’t have enough depth to stay relevant. Now that they’re back in the Atlantic Division, there’s small room for error, as a lot of things have to go perfect, in order for them to make it to the playoffs.

Next. Early Guess at Leafs Lineup. dark

If you’re looking to make a big bet on the Leafs to win a Stanley Cup next year, I’d hold off. Let’s wait and see if they even make the playoffs.