NHL season preview: How far can the Leafs go?
With a powerful offense, there’s hope for the Leafs to raise the Stanley Cup. But who stands in their way?
Written by Sammy Abdo
Regular season begins tonight, with a slate of four games that begin with the Leafs facing off against the Canadiens. The Leafs, coming off a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Bruins last season, added John Tavares, who’s one of the best players in the league, to an already talented attack. With the team choosing to invest more in the offense, there have been questions on how far the Leafs can go with a defense that has been lacking. Oddshark has the Leafs with the best odds to win it all, but there are some hurdles to ending the 52-year drought.
It’s possible that the strategy might be the best defense is a great offense. Keep the puck out of the defensive zone as much as possible and allow the offense to create opportunities. Tavares along with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are going to cause major problems for other teams and it’s fair to believe some big numbers from them this year. Another great year from goaltender Frederik Andersen will help shore up the defense, but there can’t be so much pressure on him this time around as he faced the most shots last year. With all the changes, will it be enough against the other giants in the East?
The Leafs have to deal with the Lightning, the Capitals and the Penguins if they want a shot at the Cup. Securing home ice would be a good start, and being completely healthy to start the playoffs would go a long way. Coach Mike Babcock has steadily improved the defense since he arrived three years ago and his playoff experience with the Red Wings will be invaluable to beating the best teams in the playoffs.
The journey for the Leafs this year will end at the Eastern Conference finals. The high-powered offense can only carry the team so far, and with the more complete Lightning gate keeping the road to the Cup, the Leafs will lose to them in six games when it’s all said and done.