Before launching into a rant about how bad the Toronto Maple Leafs are, I first want to talk about Morgan Rielly.
The Toronto Maple Leafs best defenseman gets left out of the Core-Four talk, even though he makes it the Core Five, and he's pretty underrated overall.
Rielly is getting what I am pretty sure is his first NHL All-Star appearence, and it's much deserved. He also scored one of the nicest goals I've ever seen last night when he went end-to-end against Cale Makar and Devon Toews, the NHL's best defesive pairing by far, and finished with an absolute beauty,
But other that that, the game made me want to barf.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Secretly Suck
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a much worse team that I think most people realize. They are only not a disaster because of a couple of complete flukes.
One, Martin Jones. His insane run (which I assume ended yesterday) of ten games and a .956 save percentage might be the only reason the Leafs end up making the playoffs.
Two, improbable comebacks. The Leafs - I believe - would have fired Sheldon Keefe in November when, down 4-1 to Tampa in the first, losing the game would have made it five losses in a row. Instead, they somehow came back and won that game.
Then there was that game that looked like it was going to be a 5-1 loss to Columbus that they somehow forced to overtime, only to lose 6-5. The Leafs have been making these kinds of comebacks all season long, and at once point in early December (I haven't checked since) had a ridiculous .700 points percentage in games where they were either down by 2 at some point, or blew a multi-goal lead.
Clearly that kind of record in those kinds of games is not sustainable. But neither is Martin Jones' play, or their record in one-goal games.
The Leafs are just not a good team. Like I said at the beginning of the season, they could still win the Cup with this roster because like the 17-18 Capitals, their core is so good that if they get goaltending nothing else will matter. That, however, is not a forumula for success.
I think the Leafs are a much worse team than anyone realizes because the core - this year with 2 x Hart Trophy Candidates - is amazing. But, they lost a pair of games 6-5 to Columbus. They lost 9-3 to Buffalo, and even lost to Ottawa.
The Leafs played like garbage last night in what should have been one of the biggest games of the year. They blew a three-goal lead and played horribly all night.
They haven't beaten a good team in a month when they beat Pittsburgh 7-0 (sure, they beat LA but LA has lost eight in a row). They already have no chance at winning the Atlantic Division, and a playoff berth is no longer assured.
Brad Treliving has been an absolute failure and Sheldon Keefe hasn't been much better.
Tonight they play Detroit and for some reason will have Ilya Samsonov in net.