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Streaking Leafs think they can ‘play to a higher level’

Jan 21, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (36) celebrates with Dion Phaneuf (3) and Carter Ashton (37) after scoring a second period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

With a 4-2 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won five straight games for the first time in almost seven years.

So as good as they’ve been recently, it’s not hard to find a reminder of just how much this franchise has struggled during the salary cap era. It also highlights their need to need to build off of their recent success rather than just celebrate it.

“We feel that this group can continue to grow and play to a higher level,” said coach Randy Carlyle, according to Sportsnet. “It’s enough talking about it; it’s time that action speaks louder than words and we’ve got to continue to grow this group to be a playoff hockey club.

“We believe that we’ve got more.”

Their goaltending and Jonathan Bernier in particular will be a major factor in determining whether or not the Maple Leafs have what it takes to be more than mediocre. He’s been a key component of their recent winning streak by stopping at least 30 shots in each of his last five games. Phil Kessel has also played a key role in the Maple Leafs’ recent success, but the bigger question is if the Maple Leafs can regularly step up on nights that Kessel is contained.

If nothing else, they now have a five-point cushion in the battle for a Wild Card spot. That’s a huge swing when you factor in that they were two points shy just before their winning streak began.

  1. slickdemetrius - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    A wild card spot, aim for the stars Leafs. Won’t matter all that much because they will go winless in February. It’s the Leafs Way.

    • withseidelinn - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      When the Leafs win, everyone chirps about the past. When they lose, everyone tears them apart about how bad they currently are. There’s a pattern for the Leafs haters.

      • slickdemetrius - Jan 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM

        History supports me pal. Go on back to your mindless cult of Leaf loving.

    • c9castine - Jan 21, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      I’ve heard this from them before. this isn’t a group that can win consistently. a playoff team sure but not one anybody is going to take seriously.

    • sunderlanding - Jan 21, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      We’re in your head! Why else would you care. It’s awesome that other fans care so much they can’t help themselves. The Leafs could be last, and they’d still be more relevant than whatever team you cheer for. The rest of the league owes them thanks for supporting the NHL.

  2. LampyB - Jan 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Retarded comment, the hating and slander that takes place is all within the toronto fan base and toronto media. No one outside toronto cares.

    • withseidelinn - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      But you read and comment

    • dueman - Jan 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Lampy, your comment is so wrong it’s laughable!

  3. micasa81 - Jan 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I actually would like the Leafs to see some success, despite the fact that I’m from Vancouver, and am told all the time by local media and fellow Canucks fans that I’m supposed to ridicule and deride them at every turn. I was happy to see them finally make the playoffs again last year. I just hope that, now that they’ve clearly moved out of the “build for the future” phase, they can keep improving. Because honestly, it would be just plain boring if the Leafs peaked at this level for a few more years, then descended once again into terribleness.

    • sunderlanding - Jan 21, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      There is one! I live in Vancouver to, and all I get is hate flung my way for cheering for the Leafs. Your post gives me hope that the hole city isn’t bad.

      • micasa81 - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:44 AM

        Well, unfortunately I moved to Boston, ha ha.

  4. montrealbbr - Jan 21, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I thought the Leafs would take a big step forward this season and it looked like they were on their way at the start. Of course they then do what the Leafs do and lose games.

  5. hilliardhockey - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    what about the streaking jackets?

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