The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Play This Lineup for the Playoffs

Toronto Maple Leafs bench (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs bench (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
Toronto Maple Leafs
Nov 21, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) talks with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) during the first period against New York Islanders at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports /

Line 1: Mitch Marner – Auston Matthews – Michael Bunting

The term “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” definitely fits this trio.

They have been the top line for the Toronto Maple Leafs since the season began. Mitch Marner is a dynamic playmaker and Auston Matthews is one of the best goal scorers in the league. Michael Bunting is no slouch, either, as he has 63 points on the year.

He seems to be the type of guy Marner and Matthews need on their line as he goes to the dirty areas, fighting for pucks, position in front of the net, etc. His energy seemed to be contagious as Marner has been playing with more of a snarl to his game.

Auston Matthews has hit 60 goals on the season, which is absurd given how far the game has come on defense and goaltending. Mike Bossy scored multiple 50 goal seasons, his peak being 69 goals in 1978-79, but his era did not exactly have the best goaltenders to shoot at. Now, Auston Matthews is facing a new NHL which seems to always get better.

However, if he was healthy, Matthews would have been on track for about 68 goals on the year, this is how good of a natural goal scorer Matthews is.

Marner has been having a year himself, with 97 points in 72 games at the moment. He can both dish the puck, but he has the opposition something else to think about when he’s on the rush as Matthews can pass extremely well. Bunting also gives them another option on offense as he can also pass and finish plays. They will be getting most of the load offensively, and they will have to dig deep in their effort and creativity to create plays and score goals.

This is an elite first line with dynamic, game-changing forwards who can pass, shoot, defend, etc. They will also be getting most of the attention on defense, most likely to be matched up against the opposition’s top defenders. The challenge for them would be to make adjustments to still be effective. You can bet that the Tampa Bay Lighting are doing their homework on them, and Keefe has to do his part to make sure he has options available if his plan “A” and “B” don’t work.


This is the lineup I feel would do the best in the playoffs, given the playstyle of the individual and the “generic” tendencies that would be expected on their given line. The fourth line is really just out there to turn the momentum and keep the opposition accountable, making sure that they don’t take advantage of Matthews and Marner. The third line is a shutdown trio, and the two skill lines will shoulder most of the weight in scoring and scoring chances.

Now, this lineup (regardless of it’s mine or Keefe’s) has the makings of an at least Eastern Conference Finals appearance. They have the forward depth, defensive depth, and a dependable goaltender.

The Leafs Playoff Blue-Line. dark. Next

The only question I have for this team is whether or not they can make proper adjustments on the fly. Coaches are underrated, and a good coach can turn a bad team into a playoff team, and a playoff team into a contender, and so on. This Toronto Maple Leafs team, on paper, is expected to go on a long run, but the coaches have to do their job to meet these expectations.