‘Go Leafs Go,
Go Leafs Go,
Go Leafs go.’
This is what you’re going to hear all over Toronto for the next two weeks, (months, hopefully).
What once was a hollow cry for hope, a temporary high for many Leaf fans with wishes and thoughts of promise ahead, is now a war cry.
A chant preceding another commencement of the Stanley Cup playoff that fans everywhere long for, but is now a reality. And one The Nation should start to get used to as our boys lead us to Boston.
Another regular season gone, another year older, another playoff season presents itself. While the youthfulness of this club is well documented, there is no doubt that adding a little ‘grey’ to the mix in the form of Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey brings a renewed and more fully-formed anticipation of bringing the ‘silver’ back to Toronto as well.
What will make the Leafs successful?
As coach Babcock has worn his record thin on the subject, its never a more appropriate time to play it. Playing sound positionally, being in the right places all the time, doing your job properly. It seems to be something that all great, (and successful) coaches preach, and one that has proven to be successful across all sports.
The Buds are in a unique position of having four strong lines, bringing matchup problems to the Bruins. While Boston has arguably the best overall line in hockey, the Leafs have the most balanced lineup, with 30-goal scorers and 50-point producers peppering all three top lines.
It’s one thing to do it in the regular season, and the test will be to bring that with you into the post-season. I think they can do it. Do your job, and do it every time.
Keys for Toronto:
The popular thing to say here, is keep up with Boston’s fore-check, and don’t get hemmed in by the banging and crashing Bruins. I don’t believe these are the Leafs of old, and it’s the Bruins who should be weary of being hemmed in.
Coach has also been hot on the fact that it’s a lot more fun to play with the puck than to chase it. Puck possession will be the name of the game, as that is what has made Boston successful in the past, so the Leafs will need to use their speed to wear their opponents down. The Big Bad Bruins to me are now on the cusp of falling behind the rest of the NHL in terms of style. With dynamic players like Nylander, Marner, Matthews, and especially Kapanen on the fourth line (presumably), the Leafs have the ability to simply outrun the Bruins over the course of a series. This is exactly what I think is going to happen here.
What a pickup. Arguably the best trade the Leafs have made in the past 10 years, Frederick Andersen has proven to be all he was touted to be. Last season was his coming out party in Toronto, and he proved in the playoffs that he is a fully capable tender. The task for him this season is to take that up another notch, as there is no doubt he will be called upon at some point of the series to keep his team’s head above water. While I won’t go as far as to say he’ll need to steal a game, he will need to steal a period here or there, and he will.
There is nothing like being in Toronto during the playoffs.
With a smattering of Leaf sweaters dotting the rainy streets of Toronto in the early morning, the cold and wet 5-degree temperatures feel warm to me. The rain didn’t hit me. Something tells me this feeling will come over everyone in Maple Leafs square tonight as we gather outside of our version of Mecca. Our eyes glued to the screen, hands held high for every close call, and hearts travelled all the way to Boston. Our voices however, ring with us here.
‘Go Leafs Go,
Go Leafs Go,
Go Leafs Go.’