The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Chicago Blackhawks last night.
Now, on paper, the Toronto Maple Leafs should have no problem taking four points from a weekend against the Flyers and Hawks, but reality is a little more complicated.
The Leafs deserved the two points against the Flyers, who scored two lucky goals (one on a 40′ shot, the other on a double-deflection that went off a knee), while they absolutely destroyed the Blackhawks in a game that required Robin Lehner to make over 50 saves.
Any game in which you lose because of a 50+ save performance is one you can’t be too upset about.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Blackhawks
The Leafs were playing without Mitch Marner (gone for four weeks), on the second half of a back-to-back with their back-up goalie in net.
The performance they put on – making a great comeback, dominating the game, throwing nearly 60 shots on net – was one that could be looked back upon later as the game where the Leafs showed their potential and established an identity as a team.
Results are fluky, sometimes you deserve to win and don’t, and there is really nothing to take away from this game that isn’t positive.
You hate to scapegoat the goalie who never gets played in a good situation, but Hutchinson has got to make some saves, and if he does, the Leafs win easily.
There will be people who will refuse to look a the big picture and just be upset that the Leafs took only one of four points against two weak opponents.
The fact is, they could have taken four points without changing anything, so it’s no big deal.
The main thing to take away from last night’s game is the style of play the Toronto Maple Leafs played while down by three goals.
They played exactly how they should play every night.
The most perplexing thing about this team so far this year is why they play the way that they do – why are they so conservative and why do they play so safe?
Asking Morgan Rielly and Tyson Barrie to play against type isn’t helping anyone.
The Leafs should be rolling out a lineup that terrifies opponents – they’ve certainly got the personnel for it. Unfortunately, it takes a three goal deficit to really show how this team should play all the time.
The Leafs controlled 60% of the puck possession, they controlled 70% of the shot share, and from the time they called their time-out to the final buzzer, they looked the best they’ve ever looked.
It was PURE DOMINATION.
The question is, why don’t they play like that all the time?
Nylander has his third multi-point game in the last four, while Matthews picked up four assists. Together they had 70% puck possession and out-shot their opponents 16-3. It was the best game of the year for both players.
I thought Tyson Barrie (68%) even had his best game of the year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost last night, but if in their loss, they figured out the way they have to play, if their team identity was revealed, then it was actually a win.