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 Fine-Tune Their Structure and Manage Their Roster

The Leafs are likely headed to a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division, so fine-tuning the structure of their game and managing the roster becomes more important during the remaining games on the schedule.

It has already started with the day-to-day injury to Mitch Marner. After an awkward fall against the Bruins last week, he missed the game against the Canadiens and has already been deemed "unlikely" to dress against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

The Leafs are taking the right approach.

With their comfortable position in the standings, and doubtful of changing their playoff seeding, keeping their best players healthy is paramount. Nagging injuries, such as Marner's, should be given the proper time to heal.

The time-on-ice of Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Tavares, and Rielly should also be managed. Lessen their workload against weaker opponents or during one-sided games.

In the end, the goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and every other playoff team, is to be in peak form for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's time for the Leafs to devote all of their efforts into making that happen.

They are now well down the list of teams considered to be serious title contenders. The Leafs will be significant underdogs against either the Bruins or the Panthers.

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The preparation starts now to be a dog with some bite.