The Toronto Maple Leafs: A Bad Week or the Start of a Collapse?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leaf. have lost two in a row, and it's hard to know how much that should matter

On one hand, it's very easy to look at their record and say "who cares?" since the Toronto Maple Leafs have been winning most of their games this season and are still in contention for the division title.

Then again, the Leafs are a team with bad team stats, a questionable roster, and who have won a bunch of games in a variety of unustainable ways so far this year.

So is this just the beginning of a regression to what their record should be, or is it just a couple of meaningless pre-Christmas losses?

The Toronto Maple Leafs: A Bad Week or the Star of a Collapse?

The Leafs roster leaves a lot to be desired. While the core is amazing, and can win them any game where the goalie plays well, the defense is terrible and the lineup isn't as deep or as good as in years past.

Specifically, the Leafs have 2 x one-dimensional centres in their bottom-six which makes it hard to get the most out of the lineup. The Domi line can score some nice goals, but they tend to get destroyed by the opposition on most nights unless Keefe shelters them.

That in turn leads to too much ice-time for the fourth line, and hurts the Leafs overall.

The blue-line, even if everyone is healthy, isn't very good and it's even worse when you need to need to make use of Lajoie, Benoit, Laggesson, and Timmins on a regular basis.

Finally there is the issue of goaltending which has been inconsistent. It's also never a good idea to be relying so heavily on a rookie with a longterm injury.

Those roster problems don't matter when the team is winning almost every game, as they did for most of November.

But the Leafs are a below-average puck-possession team (17th) who has allowed more shots and goals at 5v5 than they have scored this year. 5v5 play is the best indicator of future success and the Leafs suck at it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 21st in the NHL by 5v5 expected goals, but 9th overall by points-percentage. That almost guaratnees that their current slide is not a blip on the radar, but an indication of what is to come. (

This isn't a very good team, and it is extremely overrated because of a bunch of improbable early season come-from-behind victories that will not keep happening.

The Leaf rarely play a full 60 minutes, they are extremely bad at starting games. They rely too heavily on their supertars and do not have enough of a balanced lineup. They have been winning games like a top team, but if you actually watch those games, they almost never look like a top team.

They are a team who has gotten really lucky. Back when they were down 4-1 to Tampa in the first period in late October, they won the game win an amzing comeback. I wrote that they'd have been better off in the longterm losing that game and dealing with their problems.

They won that game, and ignored their problems. Currenetly, they've only lost two games in a row but three of their last four games have been tire-fires. (Though the fourth game of the set was their best of the year). If they don't make moves to improve their team, they will be in danger of wasting another season of Auston. Matthews' prime.

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I hope this team wins the Stanley Cup, but right now they are the worst they've ever been since Mike Babcock was fired.