The Toronto Maple Leafs Hit Rock Bottom With Brutal Performance in Game 4

Regular-season success means little when the same problems have been evident for almost a decade of the Leafs playoff futility.
Apr 27, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) battles for the puck in front of the Boston Bruins net.
Apr 27, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) battles for the puck in front of the Boston Bruins net. / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hit rock bottom. Losing a sixth consecutive home playoff game was bad enough, but the way it happened was a new low for the organization.

After earning a split in the first two games in Boston, any momentum the Leafs had has disappeared. The Boston Bruins took both games in Toronto, the latest being a 3-1 victory in Game 4.

As a result, the Leafs are yet again on the brink of elimination before the calendar hits May. The mind-boggling part is that the same issues that have plagued the team for years have not gone away.

The cast of characters that surrounds the Maple Leafs core players may change, but the results don't. Should another early playoff exit come to fruition, serious consideration must be given to shaking up the roster.

Leafs Special Teams, Goaltending Predictably Bad

The embarrassing moments during Game 4 were numerous and they have been recurring for too long. A non-existent power play, dumb penalties, and no structure were evident once again.

For a team loaded with superstars that have been a top regular-season power-play unit for years, the ineffectiveness with the man advantage is hard to comprehend. The Leafs have developed a spring allergy to scoring power-play goals.

During Game 4, two early power plays, one that was 4-on-3, were fruitless. A third-period power play opportunity didn't even register a single shot on net.

The Bruins had no such issue while up a player. After a foolish penalty by Max Domi, Brad Marchand buried a power play goal, a springtime regularity for the Maple Leafs playoff opponents.

Lack of Discipline Remains a Huge Problem For the Leafs

Domi's penalty came on a needless, defensive zone crosscheck on a nothing scrum in the corner. Earlier on the same shift, the referees chose to let two potential infractions from the Leafs go without a call before Domi's lapse in judgment. Of course, the Bruins took advantage.

During the third period, with the Leafs finally showing some life, William Nylander took an offensive holding call on Jake Debrusk, even though Debrusk had lost his stick. At the time, nine minutes remained in the game, so two valuable minutes would be lost on the clock as the Leafs played shorthanded.

Before the second period ended, cameras caught Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Nylander having an animated discussion on the Leafs bench, a sure sign of frustration. At least they were showing some emotion, all be it too late in the game.

Despite their ineptness in killing penalties, the Leafs continue to lack discipline and it costs them.

Sheldon Keefe is Getting Outcoached

Sheldon Keefe is again being outcoached during a playoff series. The Bruins looked more prepared to start the game while the Leafs were once again tentative, even though they were on home ice.

Keefe has been unable to motivate his players or play with structure. The Bruins' first goal from James van Riemsdyk (remember him?) came off a turnover from Ryan Reaves. There wasn't a Leafs player in sight as van Riemsdyk deked Ilya Samsonov in front of the Toronto net.

The Leafs also gave up another last-minute goal in the second period. T.J. Brodie made a bad decision to go for a loose puck. He missed it, leaving Marchand and David Pastrnak a 2-on-0 breakaway. Pastrnak scored to make it 3-0 Bruins. Keefe's Leafs are playing tight and with hesitation.

Yes, Keefe tried to ignite the Leafs offense by combining Matthews, Marner, or Nylander for some shifts, but his other decisions have been underwhelming.

For example, he had a Reaves, Pontus Holmberg, David Kampf combination (20 goals combined all season, including playoffs) on the ice with three minutes remaining in the third period and the Leafs down by two goals.

Keefe's team only generated 16 shots on goal through two periods, most of them from the outside, in the next closest thing to a must-win game.

Game 4 was so bad that the Leafs were rightfully booed off the ice after the second-period horn and again at the end of the game.

The effort of the Toronto Maple Leafs can't be questioned, but their inability to produce in big, postseason moments, with the same repetitive mistakes, is endless.


They are now on the verge of an eighth consecutive early playoff exit, with a talent-laden roster that comes up small when it matters.