"Spirit Is Everything."
That's the new slogan for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, and wow did the marketing exec hit the nail on the head.
Down 2-0 with about six minutes to go, the Toronto Maple Leafs came roaring back to score five unanswered goals and stun the New York Rangers. The Rangers currently hold the title of the NHL's best team, at least standings-wise.
And that's just the latest in what has been a season full of come from behind games. In their last six games, the Maple Leafs have fallen back 2-0 only to come back and win three times. They have also came back to earn at least one point in five of those six contests.
Right now for this year's Toronto Maple Leafs squad, spirit is all they got. And it's working pretty well for them early in this young season.
As long as I can remember, there has always been a Doug Gilmour, or a Mats Sundin on this team. A leader that, whenever things got tough, everyone on the bench would look to as if to say, "What do we do now?"
Without a Sundin, or even a captain on the squad this year, every player is becoming accountable for his own actions, and the results so far have been good.
It's also, at least I think, very fun to watch this young group of guys come together, and play not only for themselves, but for each other.
Each little victory is celebrated by rookies and veterans. The up-tempo play Ron Wilson has introduced, as well as the infectious fun the young guys bring to this squad, are making it a winning combination so far.
A simple formula of hard work, lots of shots, and stellar goaltending is resulting in wins and points, which currently places Toronto sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Obviously it's early, and no one can foresee the potential hardships this group may face as the season goes on, but you have to admire the way this team is playing right now.
Unlike the Maple Leafs teams of the past few seasons, hockey isn't a job to these people. And playing for the Blue and White isn't a privilege, it's an honour. And playing hockey is just plain fun.
Not only has the attitude of the players changed, but the stats as well are looking up for the Leafs early on. Toronto's power play is operating at exactly 20 percent, good enough to put them in the top half of the league. Their penalty kill has vastly improved, operating at 80 percent.
Only one month in, we're certainly not willing to "plan the parade," but it's hard not to admire what this team is bringing right now: hard work, passion, and coming of age right before our eyes. It is truly becoming something special to watch.
The Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Raleigh this afternoon to battle the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is 5 P.M. live on LeafsTV.
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