Can The Toronto Maple Leafs Bring the Stanley Cup Back to Canada?
Canadian ice hockey teams have enjoyed fantastic success since the formation of the NHL. Montreal Canadiens have reached the Stanley Cup finals a record 35 times, winning 24 of those fixtures. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 13 of their 21 Stanley Cup appearances, but you have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last time a Canadian team brought the NHL’s most coveted trophy back over the border.
The Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian NHL team to bring home the coveted Stanley Cup. They defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in 1993. Canadian teams have navigated their way to the Stanley Cup finals several times since the Canadiens’ victory, most recently in 2021 when the Canadiens lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 2023 Stanley Cup looks set to be a five-team race, according to the odds on the NY betting app. Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, and a certain Toronto Maple Leafs have the shortest odds of becoming Stanley Cup champions.
Toronto Maples Leafs are the third most successful NHL team in history based on Stanley Cup appearances and victories. Maple Leafs fans have seen their team progress to the Stanley Cup finals 21 times, winning 13 and losing eight. However, that only tells part of the story because the Maples Leafs last competed on hockey’s biggest stage in 1967, some 56 years ago.
Post-season has been a disappointment for the Maple Leafs since they won the Stanley Cup for the 13th time in 1967. Aside from reaching the Conference Finals in the 1992-92 and 1993-94 seasons, Maple Leafs have mostly bowed out of the playoffs during the first round if they had actually qualified for the playoffs. The 2020-21 season saw the Maple Leafs win the North Division but lose to the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Last season was equally as disappointing, with the Maple Leafs finishing second in the Atlantic Division before losing to Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening playoff round.
Something is different about the Maple Leafs this season, something that has their fans thinking that this is the year they return to the excitement of the Stanley Cup. Through the first 38 games of the regular season, the Maple Leafs have a 23-8-7 record, with only two defeats coming at their Scotiabank Arena home. Only the Arizona Coyotes on Game 4 and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Game 15 have managed to stop the Maple Leafs from taking the points when they were the home side.
The Maple Leafs are scoring fewer goals than last year, partly because Auston Matthews was incredible last season, scoring a career-best 60 goals, 46 assists, and 106 points from 73 games. Matthews is still scoring, albeit at a slower rate; he has 18 goals, 24 assists, and 42 points through 37 games.
Defensively, head coach Sheldon Keefe must be pleased with his team’s performance. While the Maple Leafs have conceded the same number of goals at this stage as they did last season (100), 30 of those came in the opening ten games when the Maple Leafs were struggling for form. Since October, Maples Leafs have won 19 of their 27 games, lost only four, and had four overtime losses. During that time, they have allowed four or more goals only seven times while limiting opponents to one goal or less in nine fixtures.
There is still a lot of hockey to be played before the end of the season, and anything can happen in the Maple Leafs’ remaining 44 games. That said, there is a buzz about the Scotiabank Arena home, which has become a fortress this campaign, and Maple Leafs fans are dreaming of a long-awaited return to the Stanley Cup finals.