Maple Leafs making an early-season statement

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You are probably already thinking it.

It does not matter what the Toronto Maple Leafs do in the regular season until they actually do something in the playoffs. Or something along those lines.

The playoffs are what teams are measured by, and this current Maple Leafs core has no doubt earned every ounce of skepticism that follows them around given their lack of postseason success so far.

But if you are overlooking this current team, this season, based on that mindset then you are missing out on some pretty great hockey. There is not a better team in the NHL right now, and they are dominating.

They delivered their most complete win of the season on Wednesday, completely overwhelming a great (and equally hot) Colorado Avalanche team that was also getting Nathan MacKinnon back in the lineup by an 8-3 margin. The win is Toronto’s 15th over the past 17 games, and was as thorough of a beatdown that you could have in the NHL between two top teams.

All areas are excelling

The Maple Leafs have everything going right now.

That goaltending question? Jack Campbell is doing his best to show that his 2020-21 performance was no fluke. He has been one of the league’s top goalies this season and a big reason why the Maple Leafs are second in the NHL in goals against per game, trailing only the Calgary Flames.

The superstars? All of them are producing. The Maple Leafs already have seven different players with at least 14 points, and all four of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander have at least 20 points.

The depth? Also good! When none of the aforementioned four superstars are on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Maple Leafs are still outscoring their opponents by a 17-14 margin. It may not seem like a huge advantage, but when your bottom-six can not only tread water, but also win those matchups on a nightly basis that is going to be big on the nights where your stars get shut down. Because it will happen from time to time.

There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season and it obviously remains to be seen if things will go differently for this Maple Leafs team when it matters most. Ultimately, that is what they will be defined by. But they can not correct that in December. In the meantime, they are playing at a level that have not really seen from them even during these past five regular seasons.

It is really something to watch, and the rest of the Eastern Conference should be taking notice. Especially as some of their biggest competitors have seemingly taken a step backwards.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Maple Leafs making an early-season statement originally appeared on NBCSports.com