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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Somebody Has to Lead

There has been quite a bit of criticism over the course of the “Core 4” era that the Toronto Maple Leafs stars disappear during the playoffs.  While that isn’t entirely fair, neither have we seen anybody rampaging through the scoresheet when it counts.

Last season, in 11 playoff games, Marner had 14 points, Matthews 11, Nylander 10 and Tavares 8.  All respectable numbers, given how hard it is to come by goals in the playoffs.  The year before, the results were very similar.

Competence and respectability are very fine attributes, but they don’t get your name engraved on the Stanley Cup.  In addition to those qualities, winning teams need leadership.

Somebody has to stand up, put the team on their back, and refuse to lose.  A point per game scoring pace won’t cut it.  Somebody needs to rack up two points per game, game after game.  Maybe a Gordie Howe hat trick?

I’ve used the word “somebody” several times now, but I’m referring to Auston Matthews.

Guys like Steven Stamkos aren't afraid to throw down with an opponent.  Can you even imagine the reaction of fans and teammates if Matthews got angry enough to pummel Sam Reinhart or Charlie McAvoy?

I’m not saying that Matthews needs to fight to be a leader, but he has to find a way to elevate his game to the point that he wins games on his own.  He’s the highest paid player on the team, the face of the franchise, the best goal-scorer in the league.


Once the contract of John Tavares expires next season, Matthews will most likely take over as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  It’s not too early for him to prove beyond a doubt that he deserves to wear that “C”.