My goodness, who would have thought the Toronto Maple Leafs would be in a playoff spot at this point of the year?
I’ve been a Leafs fan my entire life and I would have bet against them making it.
The team finished in last place just one season ago, which got them the number one overall pick which turned out pretty, pretty good.
Between Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Willy Nylander, I would have said they would be an exciting team that battled for a playoff spot but ultimately finished in the bottom 10.
Not the case! Freddy Andersen has been lights out all season boasting a 2.66 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage.
Despite all of the love for Matthews, Marner and Willy, I think it’s safe to say that Andersen is the MVP right now, the Leafs would be nowhere near this level of competitiveness if it weren’t for him.
That being said, Freddy is out for tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers, which is a massive game for the buds as Tampa, Boston and the New York Islanders are all threatening to knock them out of a playoff spot.
Curtis McElhinney will get the start and by no means does he have to be perfect in order to pick up a win but the Leafs will need him to make a big save or two.
Toronto has nine games remaining and only one of them is against a team that is hot on their trails (Tampa Bay is in Toronto on April 6) so the may need to rely on other teams if they don’t get the big wins when they need them.
Thankfully the injury to Andersen doesn’t look to be long term and there may be a chance he gets the start on Thursday against Nashville.
If not McElhinney and freshly called up Garret Sparks will have to will this team into the post season.
I’m not super concerned going in with the pair of McElhinney and Sparks but if Freddy is out more than a few games and the Leafs haven’t been able to get points…then it’s a different story.
As a Maple Leafs fan I can honestly say I haven’t been this captivated by a team since the early 2000s, sure they made the playoffs in 2013 but we all know how that turned out.
If there ever was a time to prove to the fans and the management that this is a new Leafs team that doesn’t crumble under pressure, the time is now.