Once again, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves with the kind of talent that puts them in a discussion as one of the few Canadian teams who seem to be the best bets to compete for the Stanley Cup. The team has offensive firepower and (I believe) good goaltending. However, there’s one critical area the team needs to conquer. That’s the defence.

John Klingberg, now with the Maple Leafs

The team’s offensive prowess is the envy of most teams. However, a championship-calibre defence remains an elusive goal. The defence seems to have a group that is gifted players on the offensive end – with Morgan Rielly and John Klingberg leading the way. However, will the defensive aspect of the blue line be a problem that haunts the team? Is the team tough enough? Will the defence require attention if the team is to stay true to its status as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders?

Related: Maple Leafs Fans Don’t Mince Words About the Team’s Problems

The Maple Leafs Don’t Have the Toughness of Other NHL Teams

Compared to teams renowned for their defence, which include last season’s winner the Vegas Golden Knights, the Maple Leafs’ blue line could be considered the team’s Achilles’ heel. Championship teams are typically built on a foundation of solid defence. A regular belief ingrained in hockey lore is that “Defence and goaltending win championships.”

A lot of questions remain. If the focus on defence and goaltending is a fundamental truth, where does this put this Maple Leafs’ team? Are they – once again – heading for postseason disaster? Is a defensive overhaul needed? Or, does the team only need a tweak or two to strengthen its blue line? And, if so, what might that tweak be?

As I note, a ton of questions remain to be answered.

Related: Maple Leafs News and Rumors: Bunting, Line Combos & Sundin

Action Might Be Needed for This Team to Compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup

As the season commences, fans will get a chance to see if the team’s missing piece in its championship puzzle is the defence’s strength. Most hockey pundits believe that to contend seriously for the Stanley Cup the Maple Leafs must address this vulnerable issue. To put it more bluntly, this is not a matter of choice; but, it’s a necessity.

While their offensive stars—Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares—have consistently dominated, the Maple Leafs’ defensive unit has struggled to provide the needed support. That might need to change – and quickly.

The Bottom Line

As the Maple Leafs soon begin their regular season, fans might expect that some changes will happen to the team’s defence. That said, a transformation will likely not happen until the trade deadline. However, is there a strategic acquisition or signing on the way? What tactical adjustments can the team make to shore up its blue line?

The rigours of playoff hockey would seem to necessitate such a move. We might all be surprised and the team’s defence could be more than competent. However, that also might be too much to hope for at this time. We’ll soon see.

Related: Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Road Easier with Bruins Bergeron Retired

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