Maple Leafs to win Stanley Cup thanks to Matthews, Giordano
To erase history, the Toronto Maple Leafs will go down in history.
The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, a 55-year drought, and haven’t won a Stanley Cup playoff since 2004.
More recently, the Maple Leafs have failed despite an influx of young talent. Since 2016-17, with a core of forwards Auston Matthews, Michael Marner, William Nylanderand defender Morgan Riellythey qualified every season and failed to win a series.
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After years of teasing their loyal fans with so much heartbreak and heartbreak, why will this spring be any different? What is it with this team that will change its legacy by winning a long-awaited Stanley Cup title?
It’s talent. It’s determination. And that’s the motivation to have a giant chip on the collective shoulders of the entire organization.
It would have been easy for the Maple Leafs to regress after losing a 3-1 lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup last season against the rival Montreal Canadiens, who then reached the Cup final.
Instead, they produced a record season in 2021-22, individually and collectively, winning more games (53) and earning more points (113) in team history. Matthews set a single-season goalscoring record for the Maple Leafs and became the first American-born player to score 60. Marner set career highs in goals (35) and points (97).
Rielly had a career-high 58 assists in the NHL and finished with 68 points, four off his career-high 72 set in 2018-19.
Moral of the story: The Maple Leafs responded to adversity by promising to improve. That’s exactly what they did.
Management has done its part by acquiring veterans Marc Giordano in a Seattle Kraken trade to increase body defense.
Giordano, who had 544 points (151 goals, 393 assists) in 1,024 games, gives Toronto its best defense in recent memory. He joins a group led by Rielly which also includes TJ Brodie, Jake Muzzin, Ilya Lyubushkin, justin holl, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin. It will be a big reason the Maple Leafs go all the way.
Video: [email protected]: Giordano scores short-side game winner in overtime
Goalie Jack Campbell enters the playoffs in great shape, winning his last five starts and eight of his last nine. The 31-year-old represented the Maple Leafs at the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas and finished the season 31-9-6 with a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and an NHL career-high five shutouts.
Once labeled a finesse team, Toronto now have legit sandpaper elements in forwards Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Clifford and a fiery Michael Bunting, who had 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) in his rookie season. It’s a big reason why the Maple Leafs are better suited to the more physical nature of the playoffs.
As the star players continue to improve and are determined to prove the naysayers wrong, the Maple Leafs will finally overcome their long-standing issues in the playoffs.