The Toronto Maple Leafs are making it easy for media coverage the past 4-games with a similar script and familiar result, coming up short in a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Center Saturday.
That’s three bad losses this week with only a fortunate collapse by Philadelphia allowing for the one check mark in the win column after trailing by as much as three at the mid point of that one.
The talented squad from Hogtown is suddenly a rudderless ship without a captain, and it doesn’t look encouraging analyzing this group from goal out.
Weak goaltending, lack of intensity, too much individualism and lethargic play pretty much sum up the week from hell for the Leafs. Make no mistake though, they have been flirting with this for the past 20-games or so.
Too often this season they’ve relied on timely saves from Frederik Andersen to keep them in games they had no business winning; the highly skilled forwards would then work their magic to pull victory from the jaws of defeat time and again.
However a funny thing happened 4-games ago; Andersen went cold and backup Garrett Sparks as I’ve been saying since Oct 6th against Chicago at United Center is not an NHL caliber goalie; against a vastly inferior Sens team, his inability to make a save, came screaming through again. But this isn’t all on him.
This hockey club for the strangest reason just cant get it through their heads that it’s a 60-minute game, not 5, 10 or whenever they feel like stepping it up.
They are a targeted team no question, but also an easy team to play against when the physical side is applied. The glaring absence of any grit in the lineup is sorely missing and the forwards have a penchant to stick check rather than use the body.
It may be part of the learning curve because skilled players are not used to chasing after the puck because before playing in the best league in the world, they usually had it most of the time they were on the ice
The harsh reality to survive in this league is, play without the puck is as important to playing with it. It’s a mantra coach Mike Babcock rightly lives by. No team has ever won a Stanley Cup without the two.
With 10-games remaining there is plenty of time to right the ship, but the about face has to be, attack with more desperation (like they showed in the comeback against Chicago 3 –games ago) and a willingness to be first on the puck.
Add those two elements to their arsenal and the skill set they possess will take care of the rest. Period; (Andersen has to get back to form as well or all bets are off).
Jake Gardiner haters have been silenced with his ability to move the puck quickly out of his own zone, painfully missing; also lacking in the lineup, the grit of Travis Dermott along with the speed of Kasperi Kapanen. No question the absence of the three has left a gaping hole, but no excuses. Everyone has to increase the effort given by a couple notches.
Last night Leafs Nation didn’t exhibit the usual robust energy I’ve witnessed all season long; instead it was a nervous crowd holding its breath on every shot directed at the Toronto goal. The faithful followers seemed in shock watching this team self-destruct at a time they should be ramping up for the playoffs. If you aren’t in that worrisome camp, you should be or at least be on the lookout for any 18-wheelers headed towards Toronto.