The harsh reality of sports is you can’t win them all.
The Toronto Maple Leafs proved that theory and then some tonight with their worst performance of the season in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the New York Islanders.
No excuses about playing the night before because so the Isles.
The one crutch the Leafs have leaned on when they haven’t been at their best has been the consistent goal-tending from Frederik Andersen. He has bailed the Leafs out situations like tonight by keeping the team in a game they had no business winning; turning a clunker into a ‘W.’ A number of Maple Leafs might not have noticed, but Freddy now sidelined with a groin injury wasn’t dressed and as I have stated on a number of occasions his understudy Garret Sparks is not ready for prime time. The Leafs have a problem in net if 31 is out for any extended period unless Michael Hutchinson can get up to NHL form quickly but that might be asking a bit much.
Hutchinson acquired today for a fifth round pick has played four games for the Panthers this year and a limited role at the AHL level.
Sparks looked unsettled, had trouble once again picking up the play but he wasn’t totally to blame; a lot of his teammates were standing around not doing much of anything. He didn’t get a lot of help. The Leafs mounted very little pressure and made an ordinary Islander team look like world-beaters. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that wont happen next time they play.
It was a bad loss; a wake up call; statement game by the Islanders (geez I hate that term because what does it really mean anyway?); bad bounces; lucky bounces or whatever excuse comes to mind, but it was a loss. Period.
The defense couldn’t get out of their own way; the forwards looked confused, disinterested, and not sharp, again choose your poison they’ll all apply.
But folks lets be realistic, they won five in a row and played a first class stinker in game six. Lets imagine for the remaining 43-games they won five of every six, would that be acceptable for all concerned?
I’m guessing it would be just dandy so let coach Babcock give them a couple bag skates and prepare them for the upcoming ‘Next Gen Game’ against the Minnesota Wild five days from now.