In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Random Thoughts, I’ll take a look at three topics that have come up recently about the Maple Leafs. First, how good really are the Tampa Bay Lightning? Second, are the Boston Bruins really the best team in the NHL? And, finally, might this be the season for the Maple Leafs to go on a long Stanley Cup run”
Random Thought One: Are the Tampa Bay Lightning Declining?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a bit of a dynasty for quite a while. Season after season, they make it to the playoffs and do well. They have a solid team, and that’s not so different this season. However, are they on the decline? Might this be the end of their playoff success?
The Lightning have looked as if they’re on a bit of a decline. The team lost four in a row, before coming back to win a couple of games recently. Still, they are nipping at the heels of the Maple Leafs and are expected to flip a switch when the postseason starts.
What gives the Maple Leafs a potential leg up in their challenge to Tampa Bay is the strength of the Maple Leafs’ depth players. For example, the bottom six is physical, plays good defence, and can toss in a goal or two as secondary scoring. They might just have the team this season to beat the Lightning.
That said, the Lighting have the Ace in the hole. More specifically, they have Andrei Vasilevsky. He might just be the best goalie in the world. He’s certainly been a strong playoff goalie – perhaps the best of all time. Can the Maple Leafs beat him?
Random Thought Two: Really, How Good Are the Boston Bruins?
The Boston Bruins surprised me this season. They have run away with the NHL standings. I didn’t think they had the team for it when the season began. Now, can they continue their successful season into a deep playoff run?
The Bruins’ season has been nothing less than historic. They started the season with the second-best start in history, going 17-2. The team might just put up the most points in NHL history. That said, how many really good teams have great regular seasons and then fall apart in the playoffs? [Don’t ask Maple Leafs’ fans that question.]
Does their great start and strong season put a ton of pressure on for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup championship? If they struggle, can they overcome any obstacles they face along the path? It’s crazy to bet against these Bruins. Yet, they just might be the team the Maple Leafs might have to beat in the long run.
Random Thought Three: The Maple Leafs Have the Team to Beat Everyone: Can They?
The Maple Leafs have worked hard to create a more playoff-ready team. Season after season, they get closer to winning. Might this be their season? Being a bit of a homer, after covering the team for five seasons, I have to root for them. It’s tough for me to be unbiased. And, really who knows what might happen during a long postseason run?
Still, this Maple Leafs’ team has the potential for playoff success. They have made significant additions to their roster. They’ve also learned a ton of lessons from losing from mistakes. They seem to be playoff ready. In addition, they’ve improved their team defence and their defensive corps.
For my money, I think Ilya Samsonov is capable of leading the team past the Lightning and probably even further. The weight of pressure on the Maple Leafs is the short timeline between this team’s Core Four might remain together. I have to believe they know that and that it drives them.
I also believe that Auston Matthews is sick and tired of losing. I think he’s seething inside and can’t wait to pour it on in the postseason. I’m looking for a strong postseason for the Maple Leafs.