5 Reasons Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Are Going to Win More Than 1 Round

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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More Toughness

The image from last season’s series loss to the Florida Panthers that still burns in my brain is that of Sam Bennett body-slamming rookie Matthew Knies to the ice, knocking him out of the playoffs with a concussion.  True to form (up to that point), none of the other Toronto Maple Leafs did a damn thing about it.

That has been a complaint about Toronto teams for way too many years, probably since the times when Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour proudly wore the blue and white.  Sure, there have been tough guys on the roster here and there, but the rest of the roster has been known to turtle or skate away indifferently.

Despite GM Brad Treliving’s claim to having brought in some “snot” and “vinegar” last summer, things looked pretty dubious last November when veteran Boston Bruins villain Brad Marchand injured Timothy Liljegren on a questionable play.  Once again, no Leaf stepped up with any type of physical response.

It was embarrassing for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and after the game, the players heard it from coach Sheldon Keefe, Treliving, the press, their neighbours, and probably their grandmothers.

The players vowed that it wouldn’t happen again, and to their credit, they’ve been true to their word.  Hired muscle Ryan Reaves has been much more visible in the second half of the season, but the team as a whole has adopted an attitude of standing up for each other.

Any assault on a Leaf will now draw a reaction from anyone from Max Domi to Simon Benoit, Matthew Knies, Morgan Rielly, Jake McCabe or Tyler Bertuzzi.  Not that these guys will instill fear of a beating in the opposition – the point is that each Toronto Maple Leaf now knows that his teammates have his back, and that has a positive influence on how a team plays.