Maple Leafs Are Going To Be Tougher to Beat This Postseason


In a Sportsnet video from two days in the past, Jason Spezza introduced that ‘We’re constructed for the playoffs.” Final season, the group wasn’t; this season, they’re. What’s the change? What are the variations on this group than final season’s group that skilled yet one more first-round postseason knock out?

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Level #1: The Maple Leafs Play Stable Protection from High to Backside

When Spezza mentioned that this group was constructed for the playoffs, he particularly was talking about how the Maple Leafs had made defensive play a part of the group’s identification. And, he’s proper. The Maple Leafs completed twenty sixth in targets towards throughout the 2019-20 season; nevertheless, the group improved to seventh general this season.

Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Why is that this group constructed for the playoffs? As Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares acknowledged, the loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets was a wake-up name so modifications have been made. This present Maple Leafs’ group now makes use of its robust group defence to propel its offence.

Tavares added, “You noticed that mix collectively properly as we grew our identification.” And precisely as Tavares famous, protection is now their identification. That’s level #1. This group performs actually strong group protection.

Level #2: The Maple Leafs Are One Yr Older

Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are precisely the identical gamers they have been final season, however they’re in no way the identical gamers they have been. Huh? Final season, Matthews and Marner have been expert, good, and 22-years-old and 23-years-old respectively. This season they’re extra expert, smarter, and are 23-years-old and 24-years-old respectively. They’re each very completely different and extra mature gamers right this moment than they have been in August 2020 after they have been overwhelmed out of the bubble by the Blue Jackets.

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First, they’re extra skilled than final season towards the Blue Jackets. As well as, they’ve had a complete season of taking part in collectively and each Matthews and Marner have taken a leap ahead, each offensively and defensively. They’re stronger, wiser, harder defensively, and extra in synch offensively.

Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews
Toronto Maple Leafs proper wing Mitchell Marner and Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Then, there’s the enigmatic William Nylander. Nylander can be a 12 months older and is coming off a very robust second-half of the season. He’s additionally taking part in extra mature hockey and is much less susceptible to the inconsistencies that plagued him earlier in his profession. He tries, nearly on a regular basis. From what I’ve seen, he seldom floats on the ice and – because the saying goes – he goes to the “arduous locations” to attain targets.

Level #3: The Maple Leafs Have Added Physicality

Lastly, throughout the offseason the Maple Leafs added these items that made them powerful to play towards. Most followers record Wayne Simmonds first. Simmonds is a widely known and hard-nosed participant who will make his presence felt on the ice. Nevertheless, Simmonds is much from alone. Zach Bogosian additionally performs bodily hockey. On the commerce deadline, the group introduced in Nick Foligno. He performs with an skilled edge.

Lastly, however to not be forgotten is Jumbo Joe Thornton. Thornton has been amping his sport up not too long ago and performs with an edge that I hadn’t seen earlier than. He’s huge and never afraid to get into somebody’s grill. He doesn’t let issues go unnoticed. As coach Keefe famous, Thornton has been the group’s most bodily ahead.

Generally We Neglect How Intense the Playoffs Can Be

It may very well be argued that the Maple Leafs have lacked playoff success as a result of the group stored attempting to make the identical philosophy and system work playoff season after playoff season. It didn’t. However after final August, as Tavares famous, modifications have been made.

If groups expect to see the identical Maple Leafs in these playoffs that they noticed over the past playoffs, they’ll be stunned. This group is totally completely different. In some ways the group is extra mature and extra prepared for the redundant scrums, face washes, and bodily play that’s prone to come its method.

Clearly, if the Maple Leafs are going to have playoff success, matching the depth of different groups can be a key. There’s little doubt that the Montreal Canadiens have checked out their first-round opponents and determined that attempting to skate with this Maple Leafs’ group would finish in failure.

In consequence, smart cash means that the Canadiens should play a bodily sport and hope their nice goalie Carey Worth will be one of the best participant on the ice. He was final season towards the Pittsburgh Penguins. And Worth may do it once more.

Nevertheless, as famous, this Maple Leafs’ group is completely different. Will probably be a a lot tougher group to beat this postseason than final. We’ll know a technique or one other by he finish of 4 playoff sequence.


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