Are the Toronto Maple Leafs Ready for Playoff Success?

The Maple Leaf fans are used to being disappointed after the playoffs but that never, ever stops they from being optimistic before! There’s a special relationship between the fans of the Maple Leafs and the Stanley Cup. Whole generations have passed since the last time it was lifted by the franchise – meaning the majority of the fanbase have to go to YouTube to see it in grainy detail. But is there room for both foolish and justified hope this season?

Photo by Luis Fallas on Unsplash

Perennial Nearly Men

It’s been 55 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs last tasted success. 55 years since Leafs fans could celebrate and rejoice in the streets of Toronto. That’s a long time by anybody’s standards which would make a win this year all the sweeter. No one is saying they need to be the best ice hockey team in Canada but it would be nice to have one hurrah to remember.

Going out in the first round of the playoffs last season to the Tampa Bay Lightning was a sickening blow. We felt last year that we had the strength and depth in the squad that could do the job and lift that Stanley Cup, how wrong we were.

As we all know the playoffs can be a cruel mistress, and sometimes the puck just doesn’t fall your way, but the lacklustre display from the team last year was unacceptable and it[s a performance I’m sure we won’t see again. So this year, can the perennial nearly men of ice-hockey make it all the way and restore our faith in this great sport? Let’s look at some of the key players that can make that happen.

A Stacked Offence

If the Toronto Maple Leafs have any hope of the Stanley Cup then offence is where the difference will be made. And that’s where Leafs fans are in luck, because this year the offence is stacked!

It’s fair to say that in Auston Matthews the Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best centers in the league. With that magical combination of skill, strength and leadership at his disposal he really propels the team to new heights. His quest to reach that hallowed 70 goal mark in the regular season was almost achieved this week and that just shows how important he is to this team and the league.

With constant profile montages of his regular season play on ESPN he is an invaluable player to the team and broadcasters as he brings more people to watch his style of play. Matthews performances will be critical to progressing in the play-offs, and fingers crossed he can live up to the expectations of all Leafs fans!

Grit and Determination

It will come as no secret to NHL fans that pure skill alone won’t win you the Stanley Cup. Every good hockey team needs that steely edge, the blood and thunder that will strike fear into opponents and rally team mates to get over the line. And the Toronto Maple Leafs can look to their fighting pair of TJ Brodie and Morgan Reilly.

It has to be said that it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the pair this season with one half holding up the other when it comes to the crunch. There have been calls to break up the Leafs top-pairing and we saw this in December last year, but the talent that both have makes them a formidable force on the ice and one that should help seal victory in any game.

Keeping The Others At Bay

Every good team relies on the man in net, and in Ilya Samsonov the Toronto Maple Leafs fans have a really solid player to hang their hopes on. As with other key areas in the team there is position for that starting place with Woll being the other likely contender, however that playoff experience and heartache from last year will be sure to fire Samsonov to a starting place.

His recent performance against the Detroit Red Wings where he pulled off an incredible save should go a long way to convincing the rest of the team that he has what it takes to make a real impact in this play-off run and get the fans behind the team.

The Power Of The Fans

Fans have it tough. We experience that. Seasons don’t pass without their big highs and big lows. No matter what, though, fans sitting cosy and collective in the stand have power. Call it a love surge! It gives the players that extra ounce of energy, that extra yard, that extra bit of power to see how an action and a victory.

Winning the Stanley Cup is always a dream. It has to be. For every team – whether a favourite or not – it’s  the impossible made possible. The 55-year drought for the Maple Leafs is the longest in NHL history. Categorically: not a record to be proud of. The least winning team has its own kind of romanticism – that god-given bad luck – but, this year could be the year. The Maple Leafs could well bring that Stanley Cup to Toronto.