A Stretch Run Checklist For the Toronto Maple Leafs

With a little over a month to go in the NHL regular season and less than twenty games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have time to get their house in order before the Stanley Cup playoffs.

New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages
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The Leafs Must Hone Their Special Teams Play

The Leafs power play has been near the top of the league rankings for most of the "Core 4" years. This is to be expected with the talent they have in their top unit.

The problem is, at times, it becomes predictable. Past playoff opponents have scouted their tendencies and neutered an important part of the Leafs attack.

This season the Leafs have been less predictable and mostly avoided prolonged power play droughts. This must continue and it wouldn't hurt to add an unexpected wrinkle or two to surprise their future playoff opponent.

Of more pressing concern, is the Leafs play while short-handed.

The Leafs lowly-ranked penalty-killing must improve in hopes of advancing through the playoffs. Preferably, they find a combination of Pontus Holmberg, Connor Dewar, and Calle Jarnkrok to supplement David Kampf and Marner.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander should not be regularly killing penalties. Keep them fresh for their offensive duties and out of harm's way.

The Leafs also need to find a set foursome on defense to help kill penalties. The remaining games on the schedule must be used to find a group that works. McCabe, Brodie, Rielly, Lyubushkin, Benoit, and Edmundson are the six that make the most sense.

Find four from this group that will make the Leafs penalty-killing respectable.