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Why the Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup

by Dan Rosen /

Fans in Toronto haven't had reason to even think about the Stanley Cup for nine years. No reason to hope, no reason to dream that their Toronto Maple Leafs could break a championship curse that has been hanging over the organization since 1967.

They do now.

The Maple Leafs are back in the postseason after nearly a decade without an appearance, and the most optimistic fan in Toronto will try to find reasons the team can win its first Stanley Cup in nearly half a century.

They'll need to do some research and have faith in a team that won't be given much of a chance, but they'll realize that the Maple Leafs can pull this off much in the way the Los Angeles Kings did last season.

It starts in net, where Toronto could be better off than many believe.

James Reimer has never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so it's hard to predict how he'll handle the adversity. But one thing that seems a certainty is the goalie from small-town Manitoba will not waver in the face of scrutiny and criticism.

Reimer has faced plenty of both in his short career with the Maple Leafs and he has thrived, becoming one of the most important players on the team and the most important on what is a penalty-kill unit ranked in the top five.

If that penalty-killing effectiveness continues into the playoffs, the Maple Leafs could be like the Kings, who came out of nowhere to win the Cup last season because they got excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick and featured a penalty kill that was successful 92.1 percent.

Like Los Angeles last year, Toronto will need its top scorers to score to supply Reimer with some room for error, but ultimately it will come down to the goalie and the PK.

The Maple Leafs should feel good about both.

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