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How the Maple Leafs have done in best of five series.

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Did you know the NHL playoffs have changed several times? A lot of you are acting like they haven’t.

1949 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 4: Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs are kicking off the 2020 NHL Playoffs with a five game qualifying series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This will be the first time these two teams will meet in any kind of playoff format, so there isn’t any history to discuss there. Instead we’ll look at the Maple Leafs history playing in five game series.

1922 Stanley Cup Finals vs Vancouver Millionaires
St. Patricks Win Series 3-2

Coach: George O’Donoghue
Captain: Reg Noble

The Maple Leafs first five game series came before they were the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1922 the Toronto St. Patricks were the NHL champions and faced off against the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Vancouver Millionaires for the Stanley Cup. All five games were played in Toronto at the Mutual Street Area at the end of March. The Leafs would defeat the Millionaires 3-2. The Vancouver team was most likely thrown off their game by having to play at 4PM Pacific time.

Game 1: Vancouver 4 - Toronto 3
Game 2: Toronto 2 - Vancouver 1 (OT)
Game 3: Vancouver 3 - Toronto 0
Game 4: Toronto 6 - Vancouver 0
Game 5: Toronto 5 - Vancouver 1


1932 Stanley Cup Finals vs New York Rangers
Maple Leafs Win Series 3-0

Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
Captain: Hap Day

The three games in this series would be played in three different arenas: It started at Madison Square Garden, then moved to Boston Garden due to the circus occupying MSG, and finally to Maple Leaf Gardens. It was a very offensive series for the Leafs, scoring six goals in each game. This was Dick Irvin’s first season coaching the Leafs after losing in the finals with the Blackhawks the previous year.

Game 1: Toronto 6 - New York 4
Game 2: Toronto 6 - New York 2
Game 3: Toronto 6 - New York 4


1933 NHL playoffs - Round Two vs Boston Bruins
Maple Leafs win series 3-2

Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
Captain: Hap Day

Oh good, it’s the Bruins. The Maple Leafs would defeat the Bruins in their first ever playoff match up. The season’s series was heavily in Boston’s favour, with the Maple Leafs going 1-4-1 against the Bruins. The most noteworthy game is game five, which went to sextuple overtime and is the second longest game in NHL history. The Maple Leafs would lose the Cup final to the New York Rangers 3-1.

Game 1: Boston 2 - Toronto 1 (OT)
Game 2: Toronto 1 - Boston 0 (OT)
Game 3: Boston 2 - Toronto 1 (OT)
Game 4: Toronto 5 - Boston 3
Game 5: Toronto 1 - Boston 0 (6OT)


1934 NHL Playoffs - Round Two vs Detroit Red Wings
Maple Leafs lose series 3-2

Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
Captain: Hap Day

The Maple Leafs first loss in a five game series came against the Detroit Red Wings who would go onto lose the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings would go up 2-0 in the series before letting the Leafs tie it at 2-2. A close game closed things out with the Red Wings winning 1-0.

Game 1: Detroit 2 - Toronto 1 (OT)
Game 2: Detroit 6 - Toronto 3
Game 3: Toronto 3 - Detroit 1
Game 4: Toronto 5 - Detroit 1
Game 5: Detroit 1 - Toronto 0


1935 NHL Playoffs - Round two vs Boston Bruins
Maple Leafs win series 3-1

Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
Captain: Hap Day

Another Leafs/Bruins series full of shutouts and overtime. Game one would get two overtimes and game four would have one, with some shutouts in the middle.

Game 1: Boston 1 - Toronto 0 (2OT)
Game 2: Toronto 2 - Boston 0
Game 3: Toronto 3 - Boston 0
Game 4: Toronto 2 - Boston 1 (OT)

1935 Stanley Cup Finals vs Montreal Maroons
Maple Leafs lose series 3-0

The Maple Leafs first sweep in a five game series came at the hands of the lesser Montreal team. While the Maroons were one of the weaker teams in goal scoring that season their defence stood tall and kept the Maple Leafs from scoring more than four goals over the course of the series.

Game 1: Montreal 3 - Toronto 2 (OT)
Game 2: Montreal 3 - Toronto 1
Game 3: Montreal 4 - Toronto 1


1938 NHL Playoffs - Round Two
Maple Leafs win series 3-0

Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
Captain: Charlie Conacher

The Maple Leafs faced the Boston Bruins in the semi-finals of the playoffs, and swept the nasty bears in another series that was close and featured multiple overtimes.

Game 1: Toronto 1 - Boston 0 (2OT)
Game 2: Toronto 2 - Boston 1
Game 3: Toronto 3 - Boston 2 (OT)

After that, the Leafs faced Chicago in a best of five Stanley Cup Finals, but wouldn’t fare so well in this series. Even though the Leafs had a 24-15-9 record and Chicago had a 14-25-9, the Maple Leafs lost out 3-1 with the final being a big 4-1 loss.

1938 Stanley Cup Finals
Maple Leafs lose series 3-1

Game 1: Chicago 3 - Toronto 1
Game 2: Toronto 5 - Chicago 1
Game 3: Chicago 2 - Toronto 1
Game 4: Chicago 4 - Toronto 1


After 1938 the Stanley Cup Final became a best of seven series and the earlier series were best of three, and after 1943 all series became best of seven until playoff expansion added a best of three first round.

After the NHL-WHA merger in 1979 the NHL introduced divisional playoffs involving 16 of the 21 teams, and this format would bring back the best of five series for the first round.


1980 NHL Playoffs round one
Maple Leafs lose series 3-0

Coach: Dick Duff
Captain: None

The Maple Leafs would play the Minnesota North Stars in round one of the newly expanded NHL playoffs. They would enter the series with their third head coach of the season in Dick Duff and without a captain after Darryl Sittler refused to wear the ‘C’ mid-season after a fight with owner Harold Ballard and GM Punch Imlach. The North Stars would take games one and two easily, with the Leafs only putting up a fight in game three.

Game 1: Minnesota 6 - Toronto 3
Game 2: Minnesota 7 - Toronto 2
Game 3: Minnesota 4 - Toronto 3 (OT)


1981 NHL Playoffs round one
Maple Leafs lose series 3-0

Coach: Joe Crozier
Captain: Darryl Sittler

The Leafs had their captain back and yet another new coach and they got the honour of facing off against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders. Shockingly, the 1980s Leafs were swept in this series. Swept hard.

Game 1: NY Islanders 9 - Toronto 2
Game 2: NY Islanders 5 - Toronto 1
Game 3: NY Islanders 6 - Toronto 2


1983 NHL Playoffs round one
Maple Leafs lose series 3-1

Coach: Mike Nykoluk
Captain: Rick Vaive

One year off, but the Leafs come back against the North Stars and win their first game in a five game series for the first time in 47 years. The 1980s were a grand time for the playoffs as the 24 win Leafs got a shot at the cup. They would go on to lose this series, but it was a lot closer than you would think.

Game 1: Minnesota 5 - Toronto 4
Game 2: Minnesota 5 - Toronto 4 (OT)
Game 3: Toronto 6 - Minnesota 3
Game 4: Minnesota 5 Toronto 4 (OT)


1986 NHL Playoffs round one
Maple Leafs win series 3-0
Coach: Dan Maloney
Captain: Rick Vaive

The first 5 game series win in almost 50 years comes against Chicago, who finished with 14 more wins than Toronto. These were all easy wins for the Maple Leafs, however in the division finals the Leafs would fall in seven games to the St. Louis Blues.

Game 1: Toronto 5 - Chicago 3
Game 2: Toronto 6 - Chicago 4
Game 3: Toronto 7 - Chicago 2


That would be the final five game series win for the Maple Leafs, the following season the NHL changed the Stanley Cup Playoffs so all series would become best of seven.

Overall the Maple Leafs record in best of seven series is 6-6. The 2020 qualifying round is here to break the tie, and possibly be the final best of the five series the Toronto Maple Leafs could ever play.