The 2021-22 season has been an enjoyable one for the Toronto Maple Leafs so far, and it could even see the team set an impressive franchise record when all is said and done.
Expectations have been high for the Toronto Maple Leafs ever since they landed star centre Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in 2016, courtesy of a historically anonymous line-up that allowed the team to undergo a full reset after many years of mediocrity.
Each season the Leafs have improved and made adjustments to the roster, and even the coaching staff, in search of the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1967 – with the drought exceeding 20,000 days since that series clinching Game Six victory (3-1) over the Montreal Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens on May 2nd of that year.
In the 2017/18 season, the Leafs even set a franchise record for single season points with 105, earning the most wins (49) and most home wins (29) – earning them third place in the Atlantic Division behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (113 points) and Boston Bruins (112 points).
However, the franchise has struggled to get past the first round of any post-season series it has faced since drafting Matthews in 2016 – with four first-round knockouts and a qualifying round disappointment that has seen many people continue to question the team’s legitimacy in recent years.
This season, however, could be viewed as the perfect counter-argument and a genuine reason to believe that the team has what it takes to finally get over that hump and progress beyond the initial stage of the post-season for the first time since 2004.
At the time of writing, the Leafs have just handed the New Jersey Devils a hefty 7-1 loss on the back of five consecutive victories after head coach Sheldon Keefe referred to some performances as ‘soft’ from his team.
This victory sees the Leafs sport a 29-10-3 record, giving them 61 points and a third place position in the Atlantic Division. This isn’t overly surprising for the Leafs, who have finished 3rd in three out of the past five seasons, with a fourth place in 2017 and a unique ‘Division Title’ in last season’s all-Canadian North Division.
However, the Leafs’ record actually has them on pace to eclipse the single season record set under Mike Babcock in 2017/18. And not just eclipse it, but utterly annihilate it if they can maintain this current historic pace.
At present, if the Leafs were able to maintain their current level of performances until the end of the season, they could finish the year with an astonishing 122 points – 17 more than the franchise record.
For reference, the highest all-time single season points record was set by the 1976/77 Montreal Canadiens, with 132 points, and if the Leafs were to achieve this franchise record setting feat, it would see them land seventh in the all-time standings of the NHL – two points shy of the 2005/06 Detroit Red Wings.
All teams face adversity, but truly great teams are able to overcome their challenges and are able to make a statement one way or another. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, destroying a franchise record that had only been set just four years earlier would certainly fall under that category.
There could still be tweaks and changes ahead for the Leafs, especially come the trade deadline, but if they are able to continue playing their brand of hockey and maintain consistency, then fans will be witnessing history in the making.