Do we have the passion? Here are The Leafs Nation playoff prognostications
By Jon Steitzer8 months ago
To answer the question above, yes and no. Some of our writers are very much all in on the Leafs this year, and you know what? The numbers support them this go around (much like last year.) Others are expecting to see somewhat of an improvement, and maybe that’s the middle ground and finally there are those of us who have been hurt too many times to ever believe in the Leafs and will settle for being happy to be wrong.
Ten questions were put to the group, and here are the responses.
Do the Leafs win round one?
Lots of support for the Leafs in this one, and even two thinking they can lift the Game 7 curse. Me, maybe I’m too much of a traditionalist and I picked the Bolts in 7.
As for the unforeseen global disaster, we can’t rule out that the world will come to an end before the Leafs win a round.
How far do the Leafs actually go in the playoffs?
If the Leafs win the Cup, I’ll happily extend an invitation to them to hang out in my backyard and chill on my kid’s bouncing castle while eating Great Value brand lime sherbet out of the Stanley Cup. That just sounds like a nice little way to spend the summer. For the most part, we had a pretty even divide other than there were no second round exits. That seems odd to me as the Leafs making it through the first round only to get swept in the second seems like the next evolution of Leafiness. Thankfully most of our writers are more optimistic than I am.
Who is in net in round one?
Once again, we were fairly divided on this one. Half and half on whether or not Campbell holds the net for the entirety of round one. Fingers crossed that he does as if things go sideways the Leafs are in a tough spot. The return of Mrazek is certainly a suitable Plan B to Campbell, and maybe we’ll get that, but after Kallgren getting torched for eight goals by the Lightning recently, he doesn’t seem like a viable option if the Leafs want to get out of this series.
Who leads the Leafs in scoring in the playoffs?
With the tough competition that Matthews and Marner are going to draw, I copped out and said Nylander. For those who see the Leafs going on a run, they are right that the top line will need to be buzzing, and that will require some big performances from Matthews and Marner.
Who will be the Leafs playoff MVP?
The answers pretty much mirror what was above, but some other poor soul hopped on my Nylander bandwagon. Welcome aboard. Playoff hockey and William Nylander go surprisingly well together.
On the other side of it, who are you going to be done with after this?
Poor Justin Holl. He just can’t seem to get any respect. In fact, defensemen, in general, aren’t getting much love here and I still feel like Lyubushkin gets punished for being played on Rielly’s pairing. The Clifford one makes some sense too, and I especially didn’t think that he’d be in the lineup during game one. That might make me change my answer from Campbell, who probably needs a bit of explaining here.
It’s not that Campbell is bad, it’s just that I don’t think he’s the goaltender to take the Leafs on a run, and with his free agency status, I’m all for exploring other options. Sorry if this offends and I hope this take gets thrown in my face repeatedly in the next two months.
Who wins the Eastern Conference?
I think I’m the only person who thinks goaltending still matters. The Canes are without their starter. The Leafs have had shaky goaltending at best, and the Penguins are potentially without Jarry. I’m going with the goalie option and saying Shesterkin can drag the Rangers kicking and screaming all the way to the finals. Of course, Freddie Andersen coming back and helping the Canes to victory also seems like something that could very much happen.
Who wins the
lesser Western Conference?
I’m starting to think people are right and I am a contrarian. Rather than break the tie between the Avs and Flames, I’m thinking the balanced attack of the Blues will prevail. As for the Flames and Avs, both appear capable of going on a run, and if I were to lean one way I’d be in the Flames camp as Markstrom can be the difference maker.
Who wins the Conn Smythe?
Well, if you picked Matthews to be the Leafs MVP and you picked the Leafs to win the Cup or at least make it to the Finals, I guess your decision is made for you here. Other than that we’re all across the board with Makar being the only other player to get multiple votes. I picked Igor Shesterkin for the reasons I outlined in the Eastern Conference question above, but fingers are crossed for Matthews having as special a postseason as he did a regular season.
Now drop your hottest playoff take:
I left this one open-ended for the TLN contributors to weigh in with their hottest take and threatened them with public shaming if it was lukewarm:
Mark Norman: Predators – Rangers cup final.
Kyle Cushman: Auston Matthews breaks Reggie Leach’s record for most goals in a single playoffs.
Nick Barden: Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews will establish themselves as one of the best duos in Maple Leafs and possibly NHL history.
Joseph Zita: Florida or Colorado get swept in round one.
Michael Mazzei: The Panthers go no further than the second round. People will be shocked how a President’s Trophy winner doesn’t go far but that defensive structure and goaltending are big question marks. The offence can only take them so far.
Dylan Murphy: Florida swept by the Capitals because 3-on-3 doesn’t exist in the playoffs.
Stephen Brown: Jack Campbell out duels Andrei Vasilevski, but the Leafs still lose.
Ryan Hobart: Oilers sweep the Kings.
Jon Steitzer: Ilya Mikheyev ends the playoffs in the top three on the Leafs in scoring.
So there are our predictions. Can’t wait for the Leafs to prove me wrong. As for your predictions, please share them in the comment section below.
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