Leafs coach Randy Carlyle: 'This is the real thing'

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle reacts during team's practice in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2013. (MICHAEL...

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle reacts during team's practice in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2013. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 PM ET

TORONTO - Same calendar year, same road city, same season-opening suppositions about the Maple Leafs.

Just as in January, the Leafs are in Montreal for Game 1, with questions about goaltending, new defencemen (young and old) and whether they've upgraded enough up front.

It's not even safe to project their return to the playoffs, with last season's fifth-place showing now mitigated by an 82-game schedule, realignment and improvements made by most of those seven teams that finished within nine points. Even if the Leafs overcome issues such as scheduling (back-to-back this week in two tough barns), plus the David Clarkson suspension and get into playoff contention, you can bet the May Meltdown in Beantown will be revived as a lively second-half subject.


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