Veterans chasing a ring or acquisitions expected to help get over the hump
(Pressure Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥)
Jack Campbell, TJ Brodie, Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, Nick Foligno, Joe Thornton
Campbell has been a revelation for the Leafs this season after a career as a journeyman backup. Win or lose, only the most disgruntled Leafs fan could lay much at his feet. With that being said, he is in the starter’s crease for Game 7 against the Habs, so there is a massive level of stress associated with that. He is more than likely going to be the Maple Leafs’ starting goaltender next season no matter what happens but a win would certainly cement his place in Leafs’ lore.
Brodie was the team’s biggest offseason signing after inking a four-year deal worth $20 million. His play during the regular season solidified an area of weakness for Toronto and he has looked like the team’s best defenceman. Fans should have nothing bad to say about him but he is being counted on to help get the team over the hump.
Foligno was brought in at the trade deadline in a three-team deal that saw the Maple Leafs part with their 2021 first-round pick. The expectation of the former Columbus captain was to bring his physical presence to a skilled group come playoff time. Injuries have slowed Foligno and kept him largely ineffective in his role. He has only played three games in the series but did log 18:37 of ice time on Saturday. If there were a time for him to come up big, this would be it.
Spezza has been one of the best Maple Leafs in the series and was a key contributor in last year’s play-in round loss. He is joined by offseason signings Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds on a veteran line all searching for a Cup. The trio played less than 13 minutes in the loss Saturday. The clock has almost run out on Spezza and Thornton to capture their first championship and Simmonds is not exactly a rookie anymore. The urgency is higher for these guys than anyone else on the roster.