3 reasons why the Maple Leafs will maintain a top-three spot for the NHL playoffs

The NHL playoffs are just over a month away and the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing in a conference whose playoff picture remains unsettled.

Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs
Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Toronto is clicking unlike any other team in the offensive zone

Auston Matthews deserves a lot of credit here, as he has 19 points and 13 goals since February 13th, and he’s averaging nearly a goal per game. Matthews has been the game-changer this season for the Maple Leafs, evidenced by his 55 goals through 65 contests. 

Adjusted for an 81-game slate, Matthews should end the season with between 69 and 70 goals. But with the Maple Leafs being arguably the best team in the league with the puck these days, there is a good chance Matthews supersedes that projected number. It hasn’t just been Matthews, with William Nylander on pace for at least 40 goals and Mitch Marner, 30. 

In that same span, Nylander had 11 goals, while Marner had pitched in with 16 assists and three goals through 12 games. But that’s less than half of Toronto’s overall output, showing us just how good this team has been when they have the puck - if their overall Corsi For Percentage at even strength wasn’t enough. 

Unless an unforeseen long-term injury occurs, as was the case with Dylan Larkin in Detroit, Toronto is the one top-three slash wild card team in contention that won’t suffer from inconsistencies or a rough stretch. The third-place team in the Metro, Philadelphia, could fall, but the Maple Leafs won’t meet the same fate. It will be surprising if anyone in the Atlantic catches them at this point. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)