The Toronto Maple Leafs have been good enough to reach the playoffs in the last six seasons, and there’s no reason to doubt them doing so again this time around. However, Toronto will need to improve their hockey from previous years, where they’ve been knocked out in the first round, if they want to progress in the competition.
Going into the 2022-23 season, some sportsbooks were listing the Maple Leafs as one of the favorites to lift the Stanley Cup in NHL betting markets. While the team had a mixed start to the campaign, they look to have found their feet after the first few weeks to challenge for the top of the division.
Toronto is a squad that has its fair share of talent. William Nylander and Auston Matthews are finding the back of the next, while Mitchell Marner is bagging goals as well as feeding plenty of assists. Team captain John Tavares is also key to the Maple Leafs attacking play, in terms of both assists and goals.
Toronto are also looking strong defensively, with Mark Giordano and Justin Holl on duty, and Ilya Samsonov impressive in goal, surrendering just 1.87 goals per game on average.
The Leafs won 54 of 82 regular season games in 2021-22. Unfortunately, they failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the sixth straight year after dropping a seven-game series to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Toronto also dropped a seven-game series to the Montreal Canadiens the year before, and a five-game series in the 2019-20 Qualifying Round to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Still, recent years have been somewhat of an improvement over previous seasons. Maple Leafs fans have had a playoff drought to endure lasting from 2005 to 2016, aside from the team’s 2013 conference quarter final loss.
The Maple Leafs franchise was established in 1917 as the Toronto Arenas. They changed their name to Toronto St. Patricks in 1919 and Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927. They are one of the NHL’s “Original Six” franchises and have won 13 Stanley Cups.
Sadly, their last championship came in 1966-67, making their title drought one of the league’s longest. The Maple Leafs also have six division titles, the last of which came in 2020-21. The Toronto Marlies and the Newfoundland Growlers are their minor league affiliates.
The Maple Leafs play their home games at the Scotiabank Arena, formerly Air Canada Centre. The stadium opened in February 1999 and can accommodate up to 20,270 hockey spectators, standing room included. The Leafs share the stadium with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
With relatively few top tier sports teams in the city, Toronto fans are used to cheering for their home squad and really get behind the Maple Leafs. They bring their energy to every game and make the experience challenging for the visiting team. Having fewer sports teams to contend with, combined with the team’s legacy in the sport, makes the Maple Leafs a top draw in their city.
The Maple Leafs’ extensive history allowed them to develop rivalries with several NHL squads. There’s the Battle of Ontario with the Ottawa Senators, wherein Toronto holds an 81-64-3-13 advantage in their all-time series. The Maple Leafs also won all four playoff series against the Sens.
There’s also the Battle of the QEW between the Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres, which is born out of the proximity of their home arenas. Though the Leafs have a large contingent of fans in the area, the Sabres have won 72 of their 110 home games against Toronto.
The Maple Leafs have also shared an intense rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings since their Original Six days. They’ve met 794 times, with Toronto having the slight advantage in the all-time series, 356-340-93-5. They last met in the playoffs during the 1993 Division Semifinals, with the Maple Leafs winning in seven games.
Toronto also shares a rivalry with another Original Six franchise, the Boston Bruins. They’ve had 764 meetings, with the Bruins having a 343-309-99-13 advantage in the all-time series. The Bruins also lead their postseason series, 42-40-1. However, the Maple Leafs have won their last four meetings.
Finally, the Maple Leafs have the oldest rivalry in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal holds a 411-329-88-12 advantage in their all-time series and a 46-32 edge in their playoff matches. Toronto’s last playoff series win against Montreal came in the 1967 Stanley Cup finals, which they won in six games.