The Toronto Maple Leafs are never going to compete for the Stanley Cup all the time they can't play a full sixty minutes.
Time and again, the Toronto Maple Leafs play to their opposition's level resulting in countless lost points to basement dwellers.
Most recently they've allowed the Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres and now, the Ottawa Senators to take standings points off of them.
To truly stake their claim to the upper echelon, these are the games they should be stacking up goals in, showing relentless determination to tally another two points.
Toronto Maple Leafs Desperately Have to Fix This Part Of Their Game
Now it's easy to blame lackluster goaltending, injuries or slumps in individual's form, or even the hangover from Christmas, but this is no new phenomenon for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It's been a trend for quite a few seasons, this group lacks a true killer instinct.
Worse than this is the fact that this exact group of players was able to pull off a 7-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 7-3 win over the then league leading New York Rangers.
The complete lack of consistency to their results has plagued the group for sometime. Call it lucky bounces, call it being out-goalied, call it what you like, but until the Toronto Maple Leafs can solve it, I'm not sure they're a true Cup contender.
Looking at the manner in which the team loses these games, you really must question the somewhat lazy tendencies to the team’s play.
Against the Ottawa Senators, the Leafs went in 2-0 up at the end of the first before gifting Ottawa a shorthanded goal and ultimately allowing them to take the game with four unanswered goals. This one wasn't on the Leafs goalie Martin Jones either - it was on the team decided to cruise in the second period.
Similarly against Buffalo, the Maple Leafs had a 2-1 lead at one point but ended up beaten down 9-3. Now you can argue that this one was somewhat put on a gilted plate for Buffalo as it's not hidden fact that Ilya Samsonov is struggling, but still this team gave up a lead - it's not as if they never had a chance.
The Columbus game shows that the team has fight, but still highlights a major concern - going down 5-0 to a lottery team shouldn't be the case with the Toronto Maple Leafs offensive talent. Thankfully, in the third it was that same talent that took this one to overtime before dropping the point.
In all of these encounters though, the Toronto Maple Leafs inability to lock in leads or to play to their truest potential against lesser teams was on full show. Until they figure it out, it's hard to see much more than another first or second round playoff exit on the horizon.