Toronto Maple Leafs: 3 keys to making the playoffs

Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

With the Toronto Maple Leafs struggling to produce positive results of late, we look at three factors that will determine if they qualify for the postseason.

It’s now crunch time for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The critics are having a field day in light of recent results and there is a genuine fear among fans that their beloved team will somehow fail to secure a playoff spot.

With this in mind, what will it take for the Leafs to qualify for the postseason? Let’s count down our three keys to successfully finishing in a top-eight spot in the Eastern Conference.

3. Better consistency and commitment

In theory, asking for more consistency and commitment seems simple and obvious enough, with one often resulting in the other. In other words, put in the effort 100 percent of the time and you will eventually be rewarded with more positive results.

However, the key part of that previous paragraph is “in theory”. That’s because it appears the Leafs have an issue with the need for more consistency and commitment.

Consider the words of Auston Matthews following the conclusion of their recent disastrous West coast road trip, where they only managed to secure one point against the bottom three teams in the Western Conference. As reported by Rick Zamperin of Global News, Matthews said:

"“I think we’re kind of, you know, one foot in the door, one foot out as far as the way we want to play. And I think we just all need to be 100 per cent in.”"

As alarming as these comments are, they are backed up by how the Leafs have been playing since early January. In their last 26 games, they have a record of 11-11-4, to give them 26 points out of a possible 52, making them the very definition of a .500 hockey team.

To further prove how inconsistent the Buds have been, consider that during this run they have beaten some of the best teams in the NHL, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightening. On the flip side, they’ve lost to some of the poorest teams in the league, including the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.

As of Tuesday, the Leafs have 13 games remaining, including eight at home. This should help the consistency to a certain extent, given they have a better record at Scotiabank Arena compared to their travels.

However, it will take more than just playing in Toronto to improve the team’s consistency. It is time for the Leafs to wake up and realize that no matter how much talent they might have — and it’s a lot — this isn’t enough.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s all about putting in more effort. If Matthews and his teammates can show a more committed work ethic, they will be in an excellent position to get the points necessary to secure qualification for the playoffs.