Toronto Maple Leafs: Recent Losses Shouldn’t Be All That Alarming

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 14: Nick Paul #13 of the Ottawa Senators battles for position against Jake Muzzin #8 the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on March 14, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 14: Nick Paul #13 of the Ottawa Senators battles for position against Jake Muzzin #8 the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on March 14, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs have only won one of their past six.

As the Toronto Maple Leafs look to stop this ugly run from lasting any longer, it’s important to point out that this type of stretch isn’t necessarily a sign that the team on the wrong end can’t still be crowned at the campaign’s conclusion. Let me explain.

It’s relevant to note that I’m not a huge advocate of using stats or patterns from seasons past as an indicator of what could or should happen in the present or future. Especially when it’s less likely that the comparison holds any weight.

For instance, when it’s noted that Team A hasn’t beaten Team B in over five seasons, so the standard assumption made is that Team A is in tough for this contest. Too many variables differ from year to year, for there to be much logic behind that type of thinking.

First, how many times have they met within that span? The assessment is unfounded if it’s from a small enough sample size that makes the outcome far from a generalized norm.

Second, is there really any relevance at all since the takeaway is not based on the exact same lineups having played each of those games? Sure, the team names stayed consistent but the commonality ended there.

With that said, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to extract more relatable observations. Especially if there is recency involved that does align the facts in a more relevant manner. Let alone if an actual conclusion can be drawn from what is being hypothesized.

Toronto Maple Leafs Struggling to Succeed

This brings me to the Toronto Maple Leafs  current pattern, of only one win through their past six contests. From coming out as dominant as could be to start the season, their sizzle seems to have faded of late.

"“I think we just really had a poor start,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews said. “They scored a couple early. And we were just chasing the game the rest of the time.”"

Through their first 10 games this season, Toronto earned 15 of a possible 20 points. They’ve only secured two through their past six match-ups during this recent mid-season stretch.

Are injuries starting to take a toll? Is their goaltending back to being an issue? Maybe this team just isn’t constructed as well as was once thought?

While that may all be true, the reality remains that stretches of less success aren’t always a determinant that the very team on the wrong side can’t end their campaign as champions.

I don’t just mean from a literal standpoint. As, of course, all it really takes is ensuring a club makes the postseason to then set the stage for what comes next. I’m referring to the fact that it’s far from impossible and a streak like this shouldn’t be as alarming as it may seem while in its midst.

Toronto Looks Like Tampa

Another organization that many have looked to when it comes to comparing who this current Maple Leafs team mirrors in its build is the Tampa Bay Lightning. I wrote about that very fact when assessing that it was in Toronto’s best interest to see Tampa Bay win it all last year.

For years, Tampa has been structured around a skill-first plan, its youth given the opportunity to develop, their core working to elevate all the while, and they have added strategic veteran pieces when it’s made sense to do so.

Well, not only is Tampa Bay the reigning Stanley Cup champion, but they actually encountered an extremely similar skid en route to the achievement

Tampa Bay’s 2019-20 Streak:

Feb. 20, 2020 @ Vegas Golden Knights: 5-3 (L)
Feb. 22, 2020 @ Arizona Coyotes: 7-3 (L)
Feb. 25, 2020 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: 4-3 (L)
Feb. 27, 2020 vs. Chicago Blackhawks: 5-2 (L)
Feb. 29, 2020 vs. Calgary Flames: 4-3 (W)
March 3, 2020 vs. Boston Bruins: 2-1 (L)

Toronto’s 2020-21 Streak:

March 4, 2021 @ Vancouver Canucks: 3-1 (L)
March 6 ,2021 @ Vancouver Canucks: 4-2 (L)
March 9, 2021 vs. Winnipeg Jets: 4-3 (L)
March 11 vs. Winnipeg Jets: 4-3 (W)
March 13 vs. Winnipeg Jets: 5-2 (L)
March 14 @ Ottawa Senators: 4-3 (L)

(Stats courtesy of: Hockey-Reference.)

It wasn’t as though the Lightning’s streak can be explained as a result of tougher competition or poor scheduling. Tampa’s six games came within a 13-day span. Toronto had theirs packed into 11. Both also lost to clubs they were built to have been beating without a struggle, at that.

https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/1371302634536112128?s=20

Like this year’s Maple Leafs, last year’s Lightning simply encountered a rough run. Yet, Tampa found a way to bounce back. The reality is that any team is capable of doing so and the best always will.

Leafs Need to Fly Forward

No, I’m not suggesting that the Maple Leafs should be absolved of the lacklustre play that got them into this mess. Nor am I stating that since the Lightning found a way to turn their streak into a Stanley Cup that Toronto will too.

I’m simply pointing out that while there is work to be done in navigating towards a better direction, this team has already proven what they are capable of. So, there is not yet reason enough to assume they can’t get back to — or even surpass — that tier when it’s time to.

Also, yes, I recognize that 2019-20 concluded in a way that was anything but normal. If for nothing else, that only helps with this comparison as the entirety of the 2021-21 season was always slated to be atypical.

Next. Leafs Need to Address Obvious Flaw. dark

Only time will tell if the Maple Leafs can bounce back towards the dominance that began their season’s storyline. The fact remains, it’s completely in their realm of possibility and no one should be surprised to see them do so.