The Fansided NHL Network, that SenShot is proud to be a member of, is embarking on its NHL preview. Each day in September, one of its members will be posting a preview for their club. SenShot will look at their preview, and let you have a look. After that, we will provide our own perspective. Jared will handle the Western Conference teams while Tony will look at the East.
Today, we’ll preview our Northeast rival and most hated foes, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here’s what Editor In Leaf‘s lead writer, Myles Robinson had to say:
It’s no secret Leaf fans are known to be some of the more overly optimistic fans in the entire NHL, but they may finally be justified in doing so as the league’s youngest team is finally showing signs of promise. One of a very small number of teams that has yet to make the playoffs since the lockout, Toronto has now gone six straight years without making the postseason tournament, a streak they’ll be hell-bent on ending this season. Led by captain Dion Phaneuf and a monstrous blueline, the Leafs will have a lot of question marks surrounding their season – questions that will only be answered as the season progresses. Will James Reimer be able to repeat his impressive performance in the second half of last season? Will Tim Connolly finally be the playmaking center that will push Phil Kessel over the top and keep him out of those 12-13 game scoring droughts? Can the coaching staff finally fix the special teams?
All told, I’m excited for this season. Sure, the Leafs may not be the most talented roster in the league, but if Reimer and Gustavsson can provide consistent, capable goaltending, the Leafs have the defense to back that up, and may finally have the firepower to take advantage of it. I don’t think they’re gonna be running anyone out of the building with buckets of goals, but they shouldn’t be giving them up in bunches, either. One thing to watch will be the way they start. Another slow start could spell the end for Ron Wilson, especially given the new hires at assistant coach. Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon both have previous head coaching experience, although Gordon would be first in line if Wilson were to get the axe, given his experience as former Isles’ bench boss.
Get ready for a fun ride, Leaf fans. It’s not going to be easy sledding all season, but I’ve got a damn good feeling this is the year they get back to the big dance, and we all know, once you’re there, anything can happen. Go Leafs!
Click here to read the entire Editor in Leaf’s Toronto preview.
You can follow Myles on Twitter here for all your Leaf’s news and info.
Here’s SenShot’s take on the upcoming Leaf’s season:
This year is a make or break year for the Leafs. With their coach and arguably their GM on the hot seat, the Leafs need to produce results and at least make it to the playoffs or waste another year. With this team now fully Brian Burke’s team, if this squad can’t win, then who knows where the Leafs are to go from here.
With their biggest signing of the off-season being center Tim Connolly, who is expected to turn into Adam Oates and feed Phil “The Thrill” Kessel for his projected 40-50 goal season this year, is a big question mark. With so much expectations and pressure, Connolly who has averaged about 12 goals, 28 assists and 63 games a season over his ten seasons in the league, he will need to have a career year to come close to living up to the fan bases’ expectation. And with Connolly having not played a full season in his last seven seasons, his health will be a constant topic in the GTA.
With a ton of depth on the back end with eight NHLer’s able to suit up on any night, their defense should be better than their 24th ranked D from last year. In goal, the Leafs will depend on young James Reimer to repeat his stellar performance from the second half of last season. Reimer will need to win 30 plus games this year if the Leafs hope to have any chance of postseason play.
Behind the bench, the always cheerful Ron Wilson will be on a short leash. Having yet to make the playoffs in his three seasons in T.O., Wilson will need a good start to the year if he hopes to make it to Christmas with a job. His future in Toronto will be tied directly to the Leafs’ results. If they make the playoffs, he’ll be resigned to a short-term deal. If not, goodbye Wilson.
Will the Leafs make the playoffs this season? I think they will be in tough. They may squeak into the last playoff spot in the East, but I think they’ll probably end up in ninth by a few points.
Check back here tomorrow when we preview the Vancouver Canucks and their upcoming season.
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