Leafs' electric offence has fans thinking big
Toronto's games should be exciting this year — win or lose
Is it too soon to be excited about the Toronto Maple Leafs' offence? Well, maybe don't call city hall about booking Yonge Street for a Stanley Cup parade just yet, but the games have certainly been fun to watch so far this season.
The young Leafs, who exceeded expectations last year by reaching the playoffs for the first time in four years, opened the 2017-18 campaign with three high-scoring wins. Toronto's 19 goals in those games are the most they've scored to open a season in literally 100 years.
The <a href="https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MapleLeafs</a> have scored 19 goals, their second-highest total through the first three games of a season in franchise history. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLStats?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLStats</a> <a href="https://t.co/I3ymdwzApU">pic.twitter.com/I3ymdwzApU</a>—@PR_NHL
And yes, there are still a whopping 79 games to go this season, and every team is bound to have a cold shooting night — which for this team might mean only three goals — but the style of play that's on display has fans excited, if not outright emboldened.
Habs/Sens fans: As a gesture of goodwill, if you're interested in watching/cheering for a good team this year feel free to watch Leafs games—@DrewGarner
remember the Gretzky era Oilers? didn’t need stellar goaltending because the offence was potent? that’s how the Leafs are looking. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TMLtalk?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TMLtalk</a>—@Robertobg68
Okay, let's leave Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr out of this, but those young Edmonton teams of the 1980s were known for scoring goals and rocking Jofa buckets as opposed to the New Jersey-style "trap-and-scrap" approach of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Both those teams earned multiple Stanley Cups with distinctly different styles in markedly different eras. Maybe the way-too-prematurely named "Auston Era" will be remembered for fast-paced hockey with plenty of goals — both for and against. Frederik Andersen has allowed 10 goals so far and the team will need him to steadily perform somewhere around his 2.46 career goals-against average before any celebrations can be planned.
Leafs are still young and have work to do in terms of blowing leads getting in an early hole etc. But damn they are resilient and exciting—@TyPhalenCF
The trio of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner is enough to have fans dreaming big, but the offensive contributions will need to come from other players as teams settle into the season and adjust their defences to the Leafs' potent attack. That's where the veteran presence of Patrick Marleau and pre-Shanaplan Leafs like James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak can make an impact.
A rejigged defensive corps is still getting acclimated as well, but the early output from burgeoning Russian sniper Nikita Zaitsev gives the team options at the point beyond Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner.
There are plenty of advanced stats too, particularly in Monday's Thanksgiving win over Chicago, that will melt even the most hardened cynic's heart. Possession and pressure lead to points, and that, in the fictional words of Chazz Michael Michaels, is what gets the people going.
For now, it's okay to for Leafs fans to dream big and get excited. Win or lose (yes, this team will eventually lose a game) this team will undoubtedly be entertaining to watch.
Now, if they can just figure out how to beat the Montreal Canadiens ... they'll have their first chance of the season Saturday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).