Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Will Have Playoff Success
There are a few reasons why Toronto should find success this year as opposed to previous years. They finally have the right mix of scoring, depth, toughness, goaltending, and special teams.
As of Wednesday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs have scored 300 goals. That is the second-best goal total in the NHL. The only team with more is the Florida Panthers with 320. It helps to have NHL-leading goal scorer Auston Matthews who has 58 goals and counting. Toronto has seven players with 50 or more points. They also have five players with at least 20 goals.
The Majority of players from Toronto’s bottom six have combined for 76 goals so far. When the playoffs start, a team’s bottom-six needs to produce. If Toronto’s defense stays healthy, the seven guys they have right now are the most balanced group they’ve had in a while. It’s a mix of skill, experience, and toughness. If Rasmus Sandin can return by the playoffs, Toronto has a good group of eight defensemen.
The Toronto Maple Leafs can put Simmonds and Clifford into the lineup for toughness. Bunting is not afraid to throw his weight around either. Blackwell might be 5’9, but he plays like he is over six feet. As mentioned before, Lyubushkin is a hitting machine, and Muzzin has played more physically lately.
During the first half of the season, goaltending was not a big concern. Then Jack Campbell’s play started to decline, and Petr Mrazek got hurt. Fortunately for the Maple Leafs, Campbell has regained his early-season form since returning from injury. Since his return to the lineup, Campbell is 6-0-0 with a 2.49 GAA and a .915 SV%.
The Maple Leafs have the NHL’s best power play at 27.7%, with 59 power-play goals scored. They also have the NHL’s 7th best penalty kill at 83.2%, with only four shorthanded goals allowed. What is the most impressive is that Toronto has scored 13 shorthanded goals.21
A team that has all of these things listed above working together at the same time should find success. Hopefully, for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they can continue to ride their current hot streak into the playoffs and find success. A healthy lineup, good depth, a hot goaltender, and some toughness is the recipe Toronto needs.