As we continue our journey through the Detroit Red Wings' new division, our next foe is far from being new.
It's time for a trip along Queen Elizabeth Way to get a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
2013 Record: 26-17-5
Home Arena: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Playoff Appearances: 64
Most Recent: 2013 (Lost to Boston Bruins in seven games in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was the Leafs' first playoff appearance since 2004.)
Division Titles: Five (1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1937-38, 1999-00)
Conference Titles: None
Stanley Cups: 13 (1917–18, 1921–22, 1931–32,1941–42, 1944–45, 1946–47, 1947–48, 1948–49, 1950–51, 1961–62,1962–63, 1963–64, 1966–67)
General Manager: Dave Nonis
Head Coach: Randy Carlyle (third season)
Notable Players: RW David Clarkson, RW Phil Kessel, LW Joffrey Lupul (A), LW James van Riemsdyk, C Dave Bolland, C Tyler Bozak, C Nazem Kadri, D Dion Phaneuf, D Jake Gardiner, G James Reimer, G Jonathan Bernier
AHL Affiliate: Toronto Marlies
Notable Prospects: D Morgan Rielly, RW Carter Ashton, LW Brad Ross, C Frederik Gauthier
HISTORY WITH THE RED WINGS
Overall Series: Leafs lead 335-334-93
Last Meeting: Leafs won 4-3 at Air Canada Centre on January 7, 2012
Playoff Meetings: 23
Most Recent: 1993 Norris Division Semifinals (Leafs won series 4-3)
Fun Fact: This was a rivalry with as much venom as Red Wings-Blackhawks when both teams were in the same conference until 1998. Both teams will also meet in the 2014 NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR NEXT SEASON
Much like the Buffalo Sabres, the Leafs are on the young side. Only three players (Colton Orr, Jay McClement, and John-Michael Liles) are over the age of 30. Despite the youth, the Leafs made the playoffs, and nearly knocked out the Bruins before falling in a barn burner of a Game 7. Also, since Carlyle took over in 2012, the Leafs have played a much more physical game, reminiscent of the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks team that won the Stanley Cup.
Toronto also has plenty of offensive firepower. Kessel is a four-time 30-goal scorer who is in the prime of his career, and Kadri is coming off of a breakout season. Clarkson adds more scoring as well as toughness, and Bolland adds depth down the middle. Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, and Gardiner lead a solid blue line. It will be interesting to see who becomes the number one goalie, as James Reimer played well last season, but Bernier will challenge for playing time.
The Leafs are definitely on the rise, but they need to take the next step to prove that they are back to being a Stanley Cup contender. On paper, this looks like a team capable of winning the Atlantic Division, but divisions aren't won on paper.
For more coverage on the Leafs, check out Pension Plan Puppets
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