It was a collapse of epic proportions, one that sent ripples through the Toronto Maple Leafs fanbase, one that very nearly inspired panic despite the club finding itself off to an 11-3-2 record.
By now, everyone knows all about the Leafs blowing a four-goal lead to the hapless Ottawa Senators on Monday. Everyone knows the two teams will meet again Wednesday and Toronto will be looking for a measure of revenge.
Everyone knows how Monday’s game was supposed to go.
But hockey is a funny business and things don’t always go as planned.
The Maple Leafs, under head coach Sheldon Keefe, took some time to regroup.
Otherwise, the plan for Thursday is the same plan as it ever was. There’s an exception, with forward Joe Thornton moving to the front of the net on the top power play unit, but Keefe is generally satisfied with how things are going. Blowing any negatives from Monday out of proportion is a job for social media, not the professional head coach of a hockey team.
“Obviously, we needed to have a discussion,” Keefe said Wednesday. “When you get a loss like that, the way that it went down, you don’t want to let it fester.”
For the Senators, they made their mark Monday. It was the first time in franchise history that they overcame a four-goal deficit. Ottawa improved to 4-12-1 ahead of the rematch.
But back in Leafdom, it’s all about getting back on the good foot.
“You just need to reset and you need to bring a positive energy to the rink,” said Toronto forward Zach Hyman. “You review the tape and you talk about it. You address the issues so there’s no elephant in the room. You hit it head on and once you do that like we did yesterday then you come back to the rink and you have a positive mentality and you get ready to play.”
And there are issues.
John Tavares hasn’t scored in his last five games and William Nylander has just two in his last 15. Keefe credits the lack of offence to the second line’s greater focus on defensive play, which may or may not yield dividends.
“It’s a give and take,” Nylander said. “And that’s why our games haven’t been as wide open.”
Toronto is definitely hoping things aren’t as wide open Wednesday night, as getting back on track and getting Monday’s debacle good and settled would go a long way to refocusing their efforts in this otherwise sublime season.
Pic: Claus Andersen/Getty Images