Toronto Mike

Biggest Keys for Maple Leafs to Snap Stanley Cup Drought

With a playoff berth secured, the Toronto Maple Leafs can turn their attention to snapping their well-known championship drought. The Leafs, while among the most accomplished teams in NHL history, haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, a drought that is nearly 60 years. With the playoffs approaching, let’s look at Toronto’s biggest keys to postseason success this season and what the Maple Leafs need to do to win the Stanley Cup.

Good Special Teams

It’s amazing the correlation between strong power-play and penalty-kill teams and those that succeed in the NHL playoffs. This has been an area of concern for the Maple Leafs late in the season and is something that needs to improve by the time Toronto plays its playoff opener. On the season, the Maple Leafs are a shade below 25% at converting their power plays. While that’s among the top 10 teams in the NHL, the Leafs would prefer to be among the top three or four teams in that category.

On the other side, Toronto is barely among the 20 best teams at killing off penalties. That’s a red flag during the playoffs when an ill-timed penalty can cost you a game and possibly a series. The good news for the Leafs is that they don’t commit as many penalties as some teams. But if they don’t do a better job of killing off penalties during the playoffs, they’re going to get burned sooner or later.

Scoring Early

Successful playoff teams always seem to start games strong. To be fair, they also excel at not getting rattled when they fall behind. But it’s always easier to play with a lead than to play from behind. Playoff games are so much more meaningful than they are during the regular season, so the clock just seems to tick off faster when you’re chasing the game. Since the Leafs are likely to be on the road more often than they’re at home during the playoffs, getting off to fast starts and taking early leads will be critical for them and a way Toronto can put pressure on opposing teams.

Strong Forecheck

It’s amazing how important the forecheck becomes during the playoffs. Since the Maple Leafs will likely have to beat multiple teams with more talent if they hope to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, they must excel at the forecheck to help slow down opposing teams. It’s also a good way for Toronto to steal some goals. Some of the team’s playoff losses in recent years have come in part because the opposing team was able to establish its forecheck. If the Maple Leafs want to change that and avoid another early playoff exit, they need to have a strong forecheck.

Balanced Scoring

Needless to say, the Maple Leafs need their biggest stars to shine when the lights get brightest. However, teams with balanced scoring are the ones that tend to survive deep into the playoffs. Playoff games are intense and tiring, especially if overtime is needed. That means teams have to utilize their bench more and get contributions from players other than the usual suspects.

With Toronto, Auston Matthews is obviously the lead scorer with William Nylander close behind. The likes of John Tavares and Mitch Marner are also reliable. But beyond that, who can the Maple Leafs rely on to score goals in big games? Can Tyler Bertuzzi become a more influential player? Can Max Dome put a few in the back of the net in addition to being one of Toronto’s best passers? Can Toronto get more scoring from its defensemen? As good as Matthews, Nylander, and Marner are, the Maple Leafs can’t survive long in the playoffs if only three or four players are finding the back of the net.

Between the Pipes

Needless to say, the ultimate key to playoff success is between the pipes. A goalie that gets hot during the playoffs can carry his team a long way. In Toronto’s case, three different goalies have logged more than 1,000 minutes on the ice this season, so stability has been an issue at times. Of course, Ilya Samsonov will be the starter once the playoffs begin. However, he has the highest goals-against average of Toronto’s three goalies. He also doesn’t rate particularly well compared to other goalies with regard to save percentage, which means the Maple Leafs may not have the caliber of goaltending that will make them favorites to advance deep in the playoffs.

For fans who feel good about Toronto’s playoff hopes or have a good feeling about a particular team winning the Stanley Cup, Bet365 Canada is a viable platform. Bet365 can be used in each Canadian province or territory and has been a trusted sportsbook in Canada for more than a decade.

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