10 Bold Predictions for the Toronto Maple Leafs 2013-14 Season
Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Bold Predictions for 2013-14 Season
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off their first taste of the NHL playoffs since 2003-04, a total of seven seasons. Unfortunately for Leafs Nation, the taste that they did get, however, was a terrible and unforgettable one. Blowing a three-goal lead in the 3rd period of Game 7 against Atlantic Division rival Boston Bruins is something that nobody in Toronto wants to talk about nor can they forget about, players included.
That unfortunate end to what was a solid shortened season is enough to motivate both new and returning players to do something special in the city of Toronto in 2013-14. With the additions of goaltender Jonathan Bernier and forwards David Clarkson, Mason Raymond and Dave Bolland the Leafs are poised to make some noise in the realigned Eastern Conference and perhaps beyond.
Call me crazy, but with the Maple Leafs speed, youth, and often goon-like style of play, they will not be a team to take lightly. They can score, they can hit, and we all know that they can fight. This guerrilla warfare style of play that Randy Carlyle has promoted since coming on as head coach has proved to be a problem for a lot of teams that go up against the Maple Leafs. It's a somewhat mad style of play that can make a lot of different things happen on any given night on the ice. Here's 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season that will result from that bold style of play coming out of Toronto.
Will these predictions come true? See the action for yourself, get Maple Leafs tickets here.
10. They Will Win the Winter Classic
The 2014 edition of the NHL Winter Classic between the Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings inside Michigan Stadium, aka The Big House, in Ann Arbor will be the most watched hockey game of all-time. The Leafs have the extra incentive to win this massive matchup because there are sure to be an overwhelming amount of their fans making the trip across the border to Michigan to take part in what will be an absolute madhouse on New Year's Day and create an energy that no Red Wings fan can match. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if at least 60 percent of Michigan Stadium was occupied by people dressed in blue and white. There is a difference between fans of the Red Wings and fans of the Leafs. Red Wings faithful will pay $100 for three tickets and Leaf fans will pay $300 for one ticket. If you're planning on selling your Winter Classic tickets, you do the math.
9. They Will Cause and Get Into At Least 2 More Brawls
The brawl that went down on 9/22 in Toronto between the Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres came as a surprise to everyone in the league except for the Toronto Maple Leafs themselves. It's a part of their game that has long been lost and now it's found. It provides an intimidation factor that not many teams can put up with. So if you're coming into TO to play the Leafs, put your dukes up people because it's going to be black eyes for everyone all season long.
8. They Will Finally Have a No. 1 Goaltender
Jonathan Bernier fits right into the mix with the Leafs. He is an elite goaltender that the Leafs have lacked since giving up Tuukka Rask years ago in what was a ridiculous trade involving the long gone Andrew Raycroft. He's already showed Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller during last Sunday night's brawl who's boss, and he is sure to continue to be a fan favorite once he wins the job as the Leafs No. 1 goaltender. You haven't heard those words in a while, have you?
7. They Will Not Lose to Rival Montreal Canadiens
Hockey's greatest rivalry won't seem like much of one at all this season as the Leafs will take all five of the games that they play against the Montreal Canadiens in 2013-14. Montreal boasts a soft lineup that won't stand up to the Leafs and it won't matter that three out of the five games will be played in La Belle Province.
6. Phil Kessel Will Lead NHL in Scoring
Phil Kessel is poised to take the league by storm after scoring 20 goals and putting up 32 assists for a total of 52 points during last year's shortened 48 game season. The sky is the limit for 'Phil The Thrill', and the 2013-14 season will prove all the naysayers wrong when he puts up big numbers for the Buds this season with help from the likes of Joffrey Lupul.
5. They Will Win 50+ Games
The Leafs have enough firepower in their lineup to give them the edge even when they find themselves involved in a game deciding shootout. Pulling out the victory during the ever so nerve-racking test of breakaways after overtime will prove to be the difference in the Leafs winning 40+ games or 50+ games. With the help from Kessel and the crafty James van Riemsdyk on the offensive side of the puck and stellar goaltending coming from new Leaf Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs will find themselves victorious when it comes down to a shootout.
4. Mason Raymond Will Be Best Free Agent Signing
Bringing in his speed and finesse style of play, Mason Raymond will look to find the magic that he experienced with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009-10 season when he scored a career-high 25 goals. Now that David Clarkson is suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season due to leaving the bench during a brawl with the Sabres on Sunday night, Raymond should get a chance to start or head up the second line for the Leafs to begin the season. He will get off to a hot start and take advantage of the opportunity that he has been given.
3. They will have 2 Forty Goal Scorers
Both Kessel and Nazim Kadri are two Maple Leafs that have been subject to a lot of ridicule throughout their careers in Toronto. Expect both of them to put their heads down and work towards having career years where they will both score 40+ goals and provide the offensive threat that both are very much capable of, especially when they find themselves playing together on the same deadly line.
2. They Will Win the Atlantic Division
It's easy for the hockey world to say that the realigned Red Wings and Bruins are going to duke it out for sole possession of top spot in the Atlantic Division with the rest of the teams slowly but surely slipping in their shadows. However, being one of the underdogs is perfectly fine for the Leafs. They are the type of team that will thrive under the pressure of playing in Toronto as they have a young core that have experienced what life is like as a professional athlete in The Big Smoke. The Red Wings are made up of old legs, and the Bruins are going in the same direction. The Leafs will surprise everyone but themselves and take the top spot going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1. They Will Play in the Stanley Cup Finals
After last year's collapse in game seven against the Bruins, the Leafs have a massive burden on their shoulders that they need to get rid of. The remedy to that is simple. It involves winning, and lots of it. It involves taking their unique style of play to the next level. To a level that separates them from everyone else in the Eastern Conference.
After one of the best regular seasons in franchise history, the Leafs will make their way through to the Stanley Cup Final. The talent is enormous. The passion cannot be matched. The time is now for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they will make the most it.