All I am hearing amongst Toronto Maple Leafs fans is that we should bomb the year, that we should just give up before the season even starts—but the sad thing about it is that I believe we can not only compete, we can win.
Why are the playoffs out of the question?
The Maple Leafs this year are going to be a defensively solid team. All their skilled players are on the defensive corps, and most of the forwards are solid two-way players.
Vesa Toskala can be one of the top ten goalies in the league. He has the ability to steal a game and—besides his size—has no glaring weaknesses in his game. This, along with a solid defensive corps, makes for a pretty decent team.
But with no offense, how can we win?
To be honest, we can still win with little offense.
The New Jersey Devils have been a good team for years and have won Stanley Cups with only a solid goalie and a great defense. All the players on their team are two-way players and have to be held accountable in their own end.
The only thing keeping the Toronto Maple Leafs from making the playoffs is experience. Experience can go a long way towards making the playoffs, but I think Toronto has enough of it.
Jason Blake has been in almost every situation when it comes to situations with a team. Tomas Kaberle has been a top defenseman in Toronto for ten years, and Pavel Kubina has already won a Stanley Cup as a key contributor for the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.
The final thing that makes me believe it is possible is the Minnesota Wild. In 2003, the Minnesota Wild—in only their third year of existence—went all the way to the Western Conference Finals. I dare you to name a player on that team that wasn’t Marian Gaborik.
If a team full of unknowns can make it all the way to the Conference Finals, then why not the Leafs? They have all the components that the Minnesota Wild did. They have a lot of defensive players in a defensive system with a solid goaltender.
I, for one, am going to keep my faith in the Blue and White. The Maple Leafs may not have the most talent, but they have a team of players that want to prove themselves, and sometimes that’s all you need for a team to be successful.