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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Better Than Competent Goaltending

 It seems as if every year, the Toronto Maple Leafs exit the playoffs at the hands of a team whose goalie was “better than ours”.  Last year it was Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky.  The year before it was Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevsky.  The year before that it was Montreal’s Carey Price.

All three of those goaltenders were able to come up big when their teams needed them.

In the Toronto crease, Jack Campbell wasn’t bad against Montreal and Tampa Bay.  Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll weren’t bad against Florida. 

But none of them were able to steal games for their team.  None of them gave their teammates the confidence to blitz the opposition when a goal was required, knowing that their goalie had their back if the puck went back the other way.

Samsonov has played surprisingly well since returning from what could have been a career-ending slump earlier this season, and Woll was on a roll before a high-ankle sprain sidelined him in December.  He’s played well since his return, but needs more games to get back into a groove.

Whoever ends up starting playoff games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team needs more than just competence from their goalies. 

A lot of things have to go right for any team to win during the playoffs.  Timely scoring.  Lack of key injuries.  A healthy dose of good luck. But often, exceptional goaltending is the difference between winning and losing.