Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

The Toronto Maple Leafs Are A Different Team This Season

04/19/2022 at 9:16am EDT

from Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,

Of course the playoffs matter more. But there isn’t a team heading for the second season that’s thinking, “Hey, who cares if we even win a game? Our fans will just be thrilled with what we did in the regular season.” Four of the Leafs, Bruins, Lightning, Panthers, Hurricanes, Rangers, Penguins and Capitals will suffer elimination in the first round, and all four will be utterly mortified by that result. Owners will be angry. Jobs will be lost.

The only reason why this is more of a talking point around the Leafs is their recent history, and because they are the most discussed team in the NHL. Some are already convinced of the inevitability of another first-round ouster, and loudly proclaim that conclusion as often as possible.

Well, if you aren’t already convinced, read on.

Sifting through the results of the final weeks of the season, it’s becoming clear that even if the Leafs do lose in the first round, it won’t be because this is exactly the same team that blew a 3-1 series lead to Montreal last spring. It’s not.

True, some key pieces are the same: Matthews, Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Jack Campbell (maybe/probably). But some prominent pieces are different, elements that have propelled this offensive-minded squad to one of the best regular seasons in club history — in an NHL campaign that has seen more goals scored than in any previous season this century.

Offence and creativity are trending. The style of hockey the Leafs are playing, in other words, is on the same swing plane as the rest of the league for the first time in the Kyle Dubas era.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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