But here’s the reality of the situation: If the Maple Leafs stumble again in the early stages of the postseason, one of the greatest regular seasons in their nearly 105-year history will be over for individual players and the team itself. mood.
“All the accolades come when the team is doing well. Like, you get individual awards and stuff in the regular season, and that’s great. But those things don’t matter much when it comes to playoffs,” the defenseman said. jake muzin The knowledgeable said with a laugh.
“It’s a new season, really, and we have to start breaking records in [the] Playoffs I guess, so to speak. So it takes day after day, get ready for Game 1 and go from there.”
After closing out their regular season against the Boston Bruins on Friday, the Maple Leafs will play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at home after finishing second in the Atlantic Division. They will face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning or Bruins, who reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019.
Either way, the playoff experience and success will not be in their favor.
muzin and forward Kyle Clifford Maple is the only member of the Leafs to have won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings (Muzin’ in 2014, Clifford in 2012 and 2014). As such, Muzin understands the grind, energy, and sweat it takes to endure season after season.
Most of his peers cannot make that claim.
Since 2016-17, the Maple Leafs, with the core of Forward Matthews, Michelle Marner, William Nylander and defense personnel morgan reilly, qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs each season and failed to win a series. In the previous season, Toronto took a 3–1 first round lead over rival Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-7 first round, which went on to advance to the cup final.
Every so often, the season ends with a gloomy locker room, with players wondering what happened.
Toronto’s playoff stumble goes much longer than that. The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series in the 18 years since they defeated the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the 2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
For perspective regarding that drought, consider this: The center-ice red line was being used at the time to monitor a two-line offside pass.
Or this: Ed Balfour was the Maple Leafs’ opening goalkeeper in the series against the Senators. He retired in 2008 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
Still, there’s a lot to be optimistic about these maple leafs.
Toronto holds its single-season record for most points (113) and wins (53), and 300 goals for the first time in 32 years; It has 307 to 81 games. Matthews, a center, scored the most goals in a season by a Toronto player and became the first United States-born player in NHL history to score 60 in a season. Marner, a right winger, set the Maple Leafs record for assists by a wing (he has 62 with one game remaining).
Another one and done playoff time, and it will all be for naught, at least in the short term. At least some of the key players have returned to career seasons after a grueling elimination against the Canadiens.
“I think it’s all about trying to grow and get better,” Mathews said. “We could use some extra motivation from past losses and things like that. That’s the goal every year, whether as an individual or as a team, to get better and be the best version of ourselves, and Just go from there somehow.
“I think we all recognize that, but the success of the team comes first. What we’re trying to build and develop with playoff time here in the spring, I think that’s the goal we all aim for.” trying to work.”
On November 20, 2019, Coach Sheldon Keefe, who replaced Mike Babcock, never coached Toronto for a playoff game with full home in attendance at the Scotiabank Arena due to limited capacity due to COVID-19 regulations. While he looks forward to seeing fans in the stands of Game 1 next week, he understands that his players’ regular season achievements carry little or no weight once the season begins.
“The real achievements, the milestones, when the playoffs start, everybody is going back to zero,” Keefe said. “So from that end of it I don’t think they necessarily have a lot of thrust or a big deal.
“However, the big thing I would say is, do we want our players to feel good and confident and all that. For our players, almost to a man, we have had career years both offensively and defensively, no matter what. Whatever it is. So from that end, and for that part of it, we feel good and our guys have a lot of reasons to be positive about going into the playoffs.”
So, for that matter, did Keefe, who sizzled proudly during the photo shoot on Wednesday.
“It’s special to be able to coach the Leafs, no matter what the team behind you has accomplished,” he said. “It is a special thing, but this group, in particular, has given me a lot of reasons to be proud of the work they do. To get to this point is, in my opinion, the most competitive division in the NHL. Going into and into the first round of the playoffs with a home-ice advantage, is a testament to the work the group has put in.
“So it’s good to sit there. But, you know, we’d like to have another team photo when it’s all said and done with some trophies.”
Winning a post-season series for the first time in nearly two decades would be a good start.