After a defeating loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs know they have to be better.
It seemed like just another night for the Toronto Maple Leafs, yet for everyone else, it wasn’t.
Another two points that were missed because of a third period flop. The Toronto Maple Leafs gave up three goals in 1:31, just four minutes after Zach Hyman scored the game-tying goal.
It’s been a recurring occurrence as of late — they lead the game, or claw their way back, just to have the lead gone after a few quick goals by the opposing team.
“We got ourselves back into a game we probably really didn’t deserve to be in,” said John Tavares, who had his seven-game point streak snapped on Sunday (via MapleLeafs.com), “we didn’t execute — and they came hard and played hard, and we didn’t match it.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t in the game at all on Sunday. Even if you want to say they were when Hyman tied it, they definitely weren’t.
Toronto Maple Leafs No Excuses
This loss adds onto a rough stretch of games where head coach, Sheldon Keefe has now seen 45 goals go into the Leafs net during the third period, which puts them 3rd for the most in the league.
“I was a little stunned that we had the surge that we did to start the third just because we didn’t seem to have it today,” said Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs third period, where there was light, and then darkness (via MapleLeafs.com). “We weren’t good at all today.”
It’s been a weird trend that’s been going with the team not being able to close out games, sometimes even against the NHL’s worst teams.
In 18 games this season, against eastern conference teams who are far from a playoff spot, the Toronto Maple Leafs have picked up 25 of a possible 36 points.
Not bad at all, but six of those games were forced to overtime, and one to a shootout. Mostly stemming from late comebacks and low scoring games.
One of those games, a 6-5 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens saw the Toronto Maple Leafs get scored on four times in the third period. Sort of similar to their performance in Buffalo on Sunday.
In their last 10 games, they’ve looked like the exact same team that was coached by Mike Babcock earlier this season.
Now in their last 10, the Leafs have secured only 11 points. They’ve also only locked down five points in two back-to-backs, which isn’t good enough.
Oh and by the way — Toronto leads the league in goals against in the third period through their last 10 games. Great.
Have a lead in the third period? It’ll probably be gone. Nothing is safe with the Toronto Maple Leafs anymore.
“But there’s been injuries, they’ve had a really bad schedule and the officiating has been horrible!”
At this point, all of that can be thrown in the garbage.
Good teams play well — with or without their star players. Even if the officiating is bad, teams will still grind and at the end of the day — get the job done.
Every NHL team goes through it, but for the Leafs, it’s not a valid excuse anymore.
Toronto knows how hard it’s been to draw penalties, but they’re not complaining about that, and nor should you.
Fatigue is another excuse that people like to use. It’s not a valid one either.
You need to have fight, you need to have the mentality that if you lose a lead, you can gain it back. And right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have that mentality.
It’s like watching somebody crack under pressure, but for Toronto, pressure is the opposing team scoring one single goal against them.
We all thought that with Cody Ceci out with an injury that maybe our defense would be better; it hasn’t been.
And their offence? At this point, it’s lead only by Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman. With Hyman riding a six-game point streak, he’s easily one of their best forwards this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs offensive game has been missing for a while now. In their last 10, there’s only been three games where they’ve scored four goals or more.
It honestly looks like everything has turned off for now. And with 22 games left this season, that’s a very scary sign.
But next for the Toronto Maple Leafs is a home-and-home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. “It’s going to tell us a lot about our team and where were at,” said Tavares (via MapleLeafs.com).
The captain is right. These two games will make or break their future. If they lose them, they’re obviously not ready for the playoffs. If they win them — well that’ll say something else about them.
It’s the survival of the fittest in the NHL right now. It won’t be good if the Toronto Maple Leafs keep up this play, but as we’ve seen throughout this season, it shouldn’t last long (I hope).
This is the most important part of the season. So please — it would be nice to make the playoffs and face the Boston Bruins again. This time though, Toronto will be moving on after game seven.