After losing to the Boston Bruins Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped to 5-4-2 in the first 21 days of the season and find themselves third in the Atlantic Division. To say expectations are high for this franchise would be an understatement, but it’s very clear Toronto is fighting the battle uphill.
Not only did the Maple Leafs drop the 4-2 decision to Boston, they lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets the game prior and did so by blowing a third period lead.
“It’s just not good enough,” Auston Matthews said Tuesday. “We need to be better and I think it comes from the leadership group. I need to be better. All of us need to be better. I think we just need to look each other in the eye and hold each other accountable and put this game aside and take a couple steps forward and just be better for one another.”
Matthews leads the team with eight goals in 11 games, while Alexander Kerfoot is second with four goals. Mitch Marner leads the squad in points with a dozen, but he only has three goals.
Toronto has been without John Tavares for three games and they’ve lost two of them. The captain is on the shelf with a broken finger and is expected to be re-evaluated in about a week’s time.
It’s not all bad, right?
Toronto is sixth overall in goals scored per game and their power play is eighth overall. But then things get nasty, like in goals against per game. Here, the Maple Leafs allow 3.45 – placing them 24th overall. And their penalty kill is poor, too.
That’s been a problem because Toronto seems intent on coughing up so many opportunities for the other team. The Maple Leafs have given the other team 17 power plays in the last four games alone.
David Pastrnak opened the scoring Tuesday with a power play goal in the first, although by the end of it both teams were one for four with the man-advantage. Sadly for Toronto, Andreas Johnsson took two penalties in the latter half of the first period. And by the time the third came around, there was no fight left. Boston scored twice and that was that. The Bruins had more shots, more hits, more faceoff wins.
“It’s just been the same thing kind of over and over for us,” said Matthews. “We haven’t been disciplined. We’re taking ourselves out of the game with penalties and, I mean, it’s costing us. It’s taking us out of our rhythm so I think that’s on us.”
Toronto has plenty of opportunities to find that rhythm and locate some discipline, but a tough schedule ahead won’t help. They’ve got the Sharks on Friday and a trip to Montreal for Saturday.
Photo credit: NHL