5 Things Maple Leafs Must Do To Win The Stanley Cup

5 Things Maple Leafs Must Do To Win The Stanley Cup
By Jim Tomlin
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been waiting a lifetime, or at least the lifetime for a lot of their fans and backers at Ontario betting sites, to win a Stanley Cup. The 13-time NHL champions have not added to that tally since 1967 and have not even returned to the Cup final in all that time.

Leafs loyalists will want to know: Is this finally the year? The 2022-23 season was a step in the right direction for the franchise, which won its first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning for its first postseason advancement since 2004.

Here’s our look at some stats that show where the Maple Leafs were strong last season, and where they can get better so they can finally claim the Stanley Cup for the first time in 57 years. As of Tuesday afternoon, the FanDuel Ontario Sportsbook has +1100 odds on the Leafs to win the Cup, the best value bet among several legal sports betting operators in the province.

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Do Better In Tight Games

The Leafs were decent in one-goal games last season with a .583 winning percentage, tied for eighth in the league. But they were poor in two-goal games, with a .364 winning percentage. There were only seven teams with a worse record in two-goal games and all seven of them missed the playoffs. The Boston Bruins, on their way to a league-record 135 points in the regular season, led the league in both one-goal decisions (.676) and two-goal games (.900). Puckline betting is one of the most popular props at Ontario sportsbook apps – that’s where a bettor either takes 1.5 goals or gives 1.5 in any given game.

Keep Winning Faceoffs

It’s not hard to figure out that winning more faceoffs means more puck possession, which leads to more production and better defense. On that front, Toronto was strong last season, finishing No. 4 in faceoffs at 53.1% won. Of 80 players leaguewide who took at least 820 faceoffs (averaging 10 per team game) in the 2022-23 season, Leafs center John Tavares was seventh with a win rate of 58.3%. New acquisition Max Domi won 53.7% of his 950 faceoffs taken, a slightly better rate than returning Leafs centers Auston Matthews (52.4%) and David Kampf (51.5%). At BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook, the Leafs have +600 odds to win the Eastern Conference.

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Get Elite Goaltending

It has been a while since Toronto had truly elite goaltending and last season was an example. Ilya Samsonov had a .919 save percentage in 2022-23, ranking him seventh among goalies with at least 30 games played. It will be interesting to see if Joseph Woll takes a lot of playing time away from Samsonov. Woll, 25, played four playoff games for Toronto last season and didn’t allow more than three goals in any of them, though in two of those starts the Leafs lost to the Florida Panthers in overtime. At DraftKings Ontario Sportsbook, the Leafs have an over/under of 105.5 points for the season, with the over and under both at -115 odds.

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Make Up For Lost Physicality

The Leafs lost the league leader in hits from the 2022-23 season, defenseman Luke Schenn, who had 318 hits. He signed with Nashville as a free agent. Also gone is Noel Acciari, who joined the Pittsburgh Penguins; he was No. 10 in the league in hits with 244. Hits are not the be all and end all of physical play, but new Leafs forward Ryan Reaves (196 hits in 73 games with the Rangers and Wild last season) will be counted on to make up for some of that missing grit. Domi is the son of former Leafs enforcer Tie Domi, but he doesn’t play the same style at all. The younger Domi had 22 hits in 2022-23 and his 82 penalty minutes for the season would have been about an average month for his dad. One game sure to fire everyone up is Wednesday’s opener against Toronto’s eternal rival, the Montreal Canadiens. NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook has the Leafs as a -295 moneyline favorite, or bettors can take the -1.5 puckline on Toronto at -112 odds.

Keep Cranking On Power Play

Toronto had the second-best power play in the league in 2022-23 at 26%. Only the Edmonton Oilers, with all-world forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, were better (32.4%). Tavares had 18 power-play goals last season, tied for sixth in the league, and Matthews had 13. This is another area where Domi can help. His eight PP goals, in a season split between the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks, were a career high.

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Jim Tomlin is an editor and writer specializing in sports, gambling and the intersection of those industries. He has 30+ years of journalism experience and his work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, FanRag, Saturday Down South and Saturday Tradition.

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