4 Must-Haves For Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Success

Florida Panthers v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Five
Florida Panthers v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Five / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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An Abundance of Grit

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving commented before the season about bringing more toughness to the lineup with the offseason signings of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves.  A common complaint about the team in recent years has been the lack of pushback when opponents try to “take liberties” with Toronto players.

That’s certainly a fair complaint, but it took some time this season for the mentality to shift in the right direction, and it will need to become even more evident once the playoffs roll around.

Go back to November 2, when defenseman Timothy Liljegren suffered a serious ankle injury after being “accidentally” nudged into the boards by Boston’s Brad Marchand.  Whether or not Marchand was guilty of evil-doing (there was no penalty called) was irrelevant.  No Leaf so much as gave him (or any Bruin) a gentle shove in response.

The team was rightly called out afterwards, and the players knew they had failed their teammate, vowing that it wouldn’t happen again.

For the most part, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been good to their word, and have responded to other teams’ behaviour with the desired snot (see Rielly’s suspension as well as Jake McCabe’s $5000 fine for dishing out some aggressive crosschecks to the Bruins on March 7).

The team isn’t short on sandpaper guys, with new additions Ilya Lyabushkin and Joel Edmundson joining McCabe and Simon Benoit on the blue line, and with the aforementioned Betuzzi, Domi and Reaves up front.

However, this needs to be an “all hands on deck” attitude throughout the lineup.  Although we don’t necessarily want to see Mitch Marner or William Nylander drop the gloves, it wouldn’t hurt them to throw a jab here or there in an after-whistle scrum.