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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Maple Leafs’ Special Teams Can Fuel Cup Run

  • They rank first in power-play percentage (28.3) and fourth on the penalty kill (84.4).
  • Toronto has moved into second place in the Atlantic Division.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports/Design: John Regula

Something special is brewing in Toronto this season — thanks to elite special teams units.  

On Wednesday, the Maple Leafs scored two shorthanded goals in their 3-2 victory over the Devils. Their 40th win of the season vaulted them over the Lightning into second place in the Atlantic Division.

Loaded with offensive stars like Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, the Leafs’ power-play prowess could be the key to winning their first Stanley Cup title since 1967 — and the first for a Canadian team since the Canadiens in 1993.

  • The Leafs rank first in power-play percentage (28.3) and fourth on the penalty kill (84.4).
  • They’ve never finished top-five in the NHL in each category since special teams percentages were introduced in 1977-78.
  • They lead the NHL with 10 shorthanded goals and are third in the conference with a plus-41 goal differential.

With 19 games to play, Matthews has already matched a career-high 80 points (46 goals, 34 assists), while Marner has tallied a career-best 27 goals.

Despite a modest $83.3 million payroll (18th in NHL), Toronto has paid for the firepower that produces 3.65 goals per game, the fourth-best mark in the league.

The Leafs have three of the top seven salary-cap hits in the league: Matthews ($11.6M, 3rd), John Tavares ($11M, 5th), and Marner ($10.9M, 7th).

The Original Six team has the fourth-best odds (+1200*) to win its elusive 14th Stanley Cup.

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