3 Ways to Ensure the Toronto Maple Leafs Beat the Florida Panthers in Round One

How the Toronto Maple Leafs can beat the Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have been one of the NHL's best teams since losing four games in a row in mid-January.

Since then, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 25-11-1 and have won nearly 70% of the points available to them.

Three points separate New York, Carolina, Dallas, Edmonton and the Leafs during this time.

During this time, however, the Florida Panthers picked up only three less points than the Leafs. Both teams are clearly Cup Contenders and in competition for the best team in the NHL.

However, the NHL is a cap-league with 100% parity, and while occasionally a team with a lot of Entry-Level talent (or one who spends all it's futures getting players double-retained) is able to game the system to dress a crazy-good team.

With the possible exception of the defending Champs (due to their making a mockery of the salary cap) there isn't an NHL team that has a roster that puts it above the other contenders.

This year's NHL is wide-open. Along with the aforementioned Hurricanes, Leafs, Oilers, Stars and Rangers, there are the Avalanche, Golden Knights, Jets, Canucks, and Bruins.

That's ten of 16 teams going to the playoffs without even mentioning the Lightning. The point is that the NHL has a lot of good, not great, teams this year, and that means anyone can win the Cup.

I mean, anyone can win the Cup any time, but usually there is a team (Tampa and Colorado come to mind, and last year's Leafs do too) that is, at least on paper, much better than everyone else.

This year it's wide open. The Toronto Maple Leafs have more flaws than they've had since Mike Babcock was the coach, but their two best players are well overdue for some playoff success and they'll probably go farther this year than they ever have before.

Here are three ways to ensure that happens.