Hockey Night in Canada

Analysis

Leafs' electric offence has fans thinking big

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.

Toronto's games should be exciting this year — win or lose

Yes, Toronto fans: you have permission to be excited about the Maple Leafs. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Auston Matthews completed the Toronto Maple Leafs comeback over the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring the game-winning overtime goal in Monday's 4-3 win. 0:41

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).

About the Author

Benjamin Blum

Benjamin Blum is a senior writer with CBC Sports as well as an online writer and social media AP with CBC News. He holds a master's of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.