Are the Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Contenders?

By Greg Higgins
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With many people watching the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning as favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs are slowly making their presence known. The Leafs have put together a six-game winning streak that has them in the fifth spot with 59 points. The points are good enough to have them tied with the fourth place team Montreal Canadiens, and the Leafs are only six points behind Boston for the No. 2 spot. The six-game winning streak is the longest for Toronto in eight years, and their latest victory came against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver which snapped a four-game winning streak for the Avs.

Of course the goal isn’t just to make the playoffs but to win the Stanley Cup. In the playoffs, you usually can only as far as your goalie will take you. Two years ago, the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Kings rode the back of Jonathan Quick to the championship. Last year the Chicago Blackhawks watched goalie Corey Crawford make stop after stop en route to the title. In the finals, he had to out-duel another great goalie — Tuukka Rask for the Bruins.

Jonathan Bernier is doing a good job for the Leafs right now with his 2.59 goals against average. This will need to drop during the playoffs, and it probably will as most goalies do during that time of the year. Put that with the scoring ability of Phil Kessel and others on the team, and Toronto could be a viable contender for the Stanley Cup.

Greg Higgins is a NHL contributor for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter.

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