Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs to the Conference Finalists

Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs To The Eastern & Western Conference Finalists
Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs To The Eastern & Western Conference Finalists / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The Leafs PK

While on special teams, let's discuss the Maple Leafs penalty kill, which also struggled in the playoffs and for most of the season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs allowed the fourth-most expected goals per 60 minutes in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the four remaining teams rank two through five in the least goals expected per 60 minutes on the penalty kill throughout the playoffs.

The one thing the Leafs did well on the penalty kill throughout the first round was limiting scoring chances, allowing the fifth least per 60 minutes on the kill among playoff teams.

However, when you look at high-danger chances, the Maple Leafs allow the fifth-most penalty kill during the playoffs. Compared to the conference finalists, there is another wide margin as they all rank two through five again in the least high-danger chances allowed on the penalty kill per 60 minutes.

The Leafs special teams' struggles were very obvious in the series against the Bruins and were a key factor in why they did not make it past the first round, but the most significant difference between the Leafs and the teams still playing is their mindset.

The four conference finalists used their 82 regular season games to prepare and find a game plan that would work for the playoffs. At the same time, the Maple Leafs seemingly joked around for seven months and decided to completely change how they played once the playoffs started.

During the regular season, the Maple Leafs were a high-flying offence with no defense that averaged 6.66 combined goals for and against in their regular season games. Still, once the playoffs rolled around, they tried to become a tough-to-play-against, physical defensive team, which resulted in only 4.25 goals scored per game in the series against the Bruins.

The Leafs' -2.41 goal differential between the regular season and post-season is by far the most significant differential of any team left playing in the Conference Finals.

These four teams practiced and perfected a perfect game plan throughout their 82 regular season games, while the Maple Leafs completely abandoned everything that worked for them.


Despite their flaws, the Leafs were an outstanding hockey team that got unlucky, facing the hottest goalie in the NHL in the first round. Hopefully, next year, under Craig Berube, this team will have more competent special teams units and more confidence in their game plan. If that is the case, this team has the potential to break through and do something special.