For really the first time in the Brendan Shanahan-Mike Babcock era, scrutiny awaits the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Expectations are sky-high for a club coming off a season in which it rose from the NHL basement to nab the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot before making things undeniably uncomfortable for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in their memorable six-game series last spring.
But what the Maple Leafs and their fans shouldn’t lose sight of is the fact that everything that could go right, did go right for the club last season — and still it was only just enough to squeeze into that eighth seed.
It’s far easier to make up ground in the lower half of the league standings. With a largely unchanged roster save for the addition of veteran winger Patrick Marleau, is it realistic to expect the Maple Leafs to make a similar jump, knowing that adversity must hit at some point?