The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t play their best game of the season last night, but make no mistake – it was their best and most important win.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting one of the NHL’s best teams, the Carolina Hurricanes – and ex-netminder Freddie Andersen – but they were doing it without their best player (and the best player in the world) Auston Matthews, who was recently suspended due to cross-checking an idiot in the face.
They were also missing their best defenseman.
And they were missing their best goalie, who is arguably one of the NHL’s best goalies.
And yet, without their best centre, defenseman and goalie, the Toronto Maple Leafs dug deep and took down one of the best teams in hockey.
It was amazing. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Toronto Maple Leafs Keep Showing They Are the Best
4-1-1 in their last six, the Leafs are, but you wouldn’t ever be able to guess that if you just read all the narratives surrounding this team.
I could talk about Marner, Mikheyev and Erik Kallgren, but we all know they were amazing last night.
But I’d rather talk about how good the Leafs are and how under-appreciated they are. I know it’s hard to embrace something you know could potentially hurt you, but if you are still trying to play it cool, you’re only hurting yourself at this point.
Because this is a great team.
It’s frankly the best team in the NHL.
Auston Matthews isn’t just having the best season, he’s having one of the best seasons in the last 20 odd years of the NHL. He is running away with the Hart Trophy.
Mitch Marner, if not for an injury, would be right there along side him – Marner also deserves Hart Trophy consideration.
Michael Bunting – who is 5th in the NHL In 5v5 points (not among rookies; among everyone) is the Rookie of the Year.
And that’s just one line, though it’s by far the best line in the NHL.
If this was any other team, people would have declared them the best months ago when they spent 37 games winning 80% of the points available to them. Colorado did something similar, it’s true, but Colorado doesn’t play in the Atlantic Division, and has a much, much, much easier schedule.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently ranked 27th in 5v5 save percentage. The fact that have won so many games despite bad goaltending is a great sign for the future, because even with a random goalie, their save percentage is extremely likely to rise.
The fact is, the only way the Leafs ever lose is if they get bad goaltending. Even below average goaltending doesn’t seem to slow them down. This is the team to beat in the NHL, everyone else is a poseur.
In conclusion, the Leafs just beat Carolina without Matthews, Muzzin and Campbell, an accomplishment so sweet that it comes with a premonition of glory.