I have to admit coming into this season that I didn't think the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to do so well. I thought we wouldn't be bad but not overly good either. Basically, I thought we would be exactly where we have been for the past three years. Lost in mediocrity.
Who knew mediocre could be exciting.
This year, I have been pleasantly surprised. I expected coming out of the gate that the team would be a mess. What I ended up getting was a very exciting team to watch. Win or lose.
But the question is, what makes this team so exciting to watch and how it is being successful?
Well to be honest. I didn't know at first.
Once I thought about it, I realized that it isn't any one thing, it is a combination of things.
First is the teams speed. Last year, the team was a slow, lazy team that didn't fight in the corners. They just tried to do too much with the puck til they lost it to the other team. This year shows a much faster team with a new system that Ron Wilson implemented. It emphasizes on constant fore-checking and more responsibility with the puck, both on the rush and in the corners as well.
Second is the teams desire. I am not going to lie, when the Leafs went down in a game last year, I just changed the channel. I knew that if they went down and if we were losing at any point in the game that they would just give up. Not this year. This year is different. This year this team just doesn't give up and no matter what, they always believe they can win no matter what the score is. When you see this in a team, you know that the team is buying into whatever the coach has to say.
Third is their offense. You might say, what offense but that's exactly what I mean. The team is a no-name offense that finds ways to get goals on the score sheet by doing the simplest of things. Getting in front of the net. I believe that about fifty percent of this team's goals come from in front of the net and another thirty percent come from the goalie not seeing the puck. Ron Wilson knows that talent will not get him goals but someone in front of the net will.
Finally, the defense. After a 6-5 win (over New Jersey) it's hard to preach that a team has good defense but it's true. This defense is better than expected and when a player gets injured, there are two more defenseman to back him up. They are able to move the puck very well and once Ron Wilson teaches them that taking the body is better than using the stick to stop a play, this defense will be one of the best in the league.
I know this team is far from being a contender but I couldn't be more happier watching. They have stamina, they have speed, and are able to make plays without any skill.
If Ron Wilson's system can do all this with a bunch of third liners, then I can't see what the future holds for the Toronto Maple Leafs.