After losing 8-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, the biggest question to come out of the game was, are the Toronto Maple Leafs soft?
If the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning face each other in the First Round of the playoffs, be prepared for some fireworks. Not only will there be a ton of goals, but expect a few fights as well.
Over the past few seasons, the Leafs have been looked at as a “soft” hockey team. I guess when you score goals instead of fight, that’s considered soft. But, isn’t the objective to score more goals than the other team?
I understand that playoff hockey is different than the regular season and you need to wear down your opponent, but fighting isn’t going to solve that. If two fighters fight, how does that add any value to the outcome of the game?
If Kyle Clifford fights Pat Maroon, is the outcome of the game going to be any different?
If both of those players are fighting, it’s usually because the game was already out of reach and someone wanted to try to change the momentum or let out some frustration. Also, both players don’t add much offensive output to the game anyway, so having them spend five minutes in the box isn’t going to change much.
In a tied playoff game, especially in the third period, you’re not going to see a fight, so should the Leafs spend more time concerned about the physical side of the game, or try to score goals?
Toronto Isn’t a Soft Hockey Team
“Soft” is such a ridiculous word in hockey. As previously mentioned, fighting is pretty irrelevant and not necessary in the grand scheme of a hockey game result. I still think it should stay in the sport, but to fight, just to fight, is pretty dumb.
So what does soft really mean?
Does it mean that a team doesn’t fight? Does it mean that they’re easy to bully and get under their skin? Or does it mean that they’re smaller and more focused on skill?
Regardless of your definition of “soft”, Toronto isn’t that team.
When it comes to pest’s, Michael Bunting is no different than Brad Marchand. He gets in your face and isn’t afraid of the rough stuff. Wayne Simmonds provides roughness and so does Kyle Clifford, so that’s three of the 12 potential forwards that have toughness.
On a given team, you’re not going to have many more forwards than that.
And then on the blue-line, Mark Giordano, Jake Muzzin and Ilya Lybushkin all have no issues with hitting and getting into it, so I think the Leafs are fine.
When you’re losing 4-0 against a team you’re probably going to play in the playoffs, things are going to get heated and I think overall, Toronto performed admirably in the toughness department on Thursday night.
They’re just as “tough” as Tampa Bay and at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who’s skilled guys player better, rather than who’s tough guys hit harder.
The Leafs are not soft and that’ll be shown when they get their revenge against the Lightning in the playoffs.