Toronto Maple Leafs: Memorable playoff performances from current players

TORONTO,ON - APRIL 23: Nazem Kadri
TORONTO,ON - APRIL 23: Nazem Kadri /

With the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs starting, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a date with the Boston Bruins with players looking to repeat past performances.

Players can play the best hockey of their lives in the regular season, but the way they perform in the playoffs is the biggest test in the NHL. Everything they have done over 82 games can be erased in a seven-game series; the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen that first-hand.

Every move is put under a microscope and everyone’s leash is a little tighter. A player’s ability to play well under pressure is what allows them to have that memorable playoff performance.

Auston Matthews is one of those players who has already provided a memorable playoff performance for the Leafs, despite it only coming in one series. Even during the regular season, you could always count on him to score that much-needed goal, and he turned it up a notch in the playoffs last season.

In six career playoff games, he scored four goals and an assist while averaging 20:18 ice time, and had a 50% faceoff percentage against the toughest matchups the Capitals could offer. Against the Boston Bruins, many expect him to turn up his play even more.

Kasperi Kapanen has not put up a lot of offence in 55 NHL games over the past three seasons; however, in that first round series, he scored two crucial goals. One of those gave the Leafs the win in double overtime. Kapanen’s speed and strength in front of the net will be a huge problem for the Bruins to try and defend.

James van Riemsdyk has always been a huge playoff performer. Last postseason, he had two goals and one assist. In the 2013 playoffs, he had seven points (two goals & 5 assists) in seven games, and seven goals in 11 games back in 2011. He always seems to find the back of the net against the Bruins and he was one of the few players left from the 2013 roster. He will be looking for blood.

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Ron Hainsey may have only gone to the playoffs once in his career but he made it count, going all the way with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He recorded two goals and six assists in 25 games played while averaging 21:07, second only to Brian Dumoulin on the team.

The injury to Kris Letang meant Hainsey had to be thrown to the wolves. His ability to play huge minutes against the toughest matchups will be huge for the Maple Leafs.

Unlike literally the entire Leafs roster, Patrick Marleau has had a lot of experience in the playoffs; 17 appearances to be exact. He has played 177 playoff games and has 68 goals and 52 assists, for 120 points.

When the San José Sharks made their Cup run two seasons ago, Marleau recorded five goals and eight assists while averaging one of the lowest average time-on-ice of his playoff career (16:47). He will be relied upon to lead the team and offer his experience to the younger players.

Next: Matchups to watch in Round 1 vs. Bruins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have already played the Bruins four times this season. There is no love lost between them. For players who have been through the entire Leafs’ rebuild, (especially van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and Jake Gardiner), this series will prove to be the ultimate test.