Leafs have a chance to hit a milestone this year that they've only achieved once
With five games left in the Toronto Maple Leafs regular season, many fans may not feel like there’s much to play for.
Their first-round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning has been unofficially set for months but officially set as of this past Saturday.
With the Leafs six points ahead of the Lightning in the standings and having a game in hand as of Thursday, it might feel like there’s not much to play for over the season’s final week besides clinching home-ice advantage.
“The structure of our lineup is in place. It is just a matter of moving one or two things around here and there depending on the situation,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said earlier this week about the team’s mindset heading into the playoffs.
But for a franchise known for its history, there’s a chance the team can still make a bit of it throughout this final regular-season stretch.
Toronto is currently sitting on 46 wins this season with just five games left.
While they won’t be able to reach last season’s 115-point campaign that came with a franchise-high 54 wins, there’s still a chance they’ll be able to rack up the second-best regular season in Leafs history.
The team has topped the 50-win mark just once in their 105-season history (last year), but they’ll need four wins in their next five games if they’re hoping to tie that mark.
They’re just three points away from tying the second-best regular season in franchise history, a 49-win, 105-point campaign in 2017-18.
(Technically, the 2020-21 pandemic-shortened season had a better points percentage at .688, where the Leafs put up 77 points and 35 wins in 56 games.)
But Toronto is a market that knows as well as anybody that regular-season success means very little unless you can replicate it come playoff time.
And despite the Leafs still searching for their first postseason series victory since 2004, Toronto has the fourth-best odds of capturing the Stanley Cup (10.84), behind the Boston Bruins 4.51, Colorado Avalanche, 7.33, Carolina Hurricanes, 10.19, as per Sports Interaction.