The Leafs stink lately and personally, as a hockey fan, I hate losing. How can a team with endless amounts of fire power be on such a terrible run? In Toronto’s previous 7 games they hold a 2-5 record and have been outscored 23-17 in that same span. One could argue that the Leafs boast the best 1-2-3 punch at the center position in the entire NHL which excludes Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Patrick Marleau. So what is stopping them from being an absolute wagon? Well to start, the goalie situation has been skewed over the last few weeks with Michael Hutchinson getting 5 starts in the month of January. This was due to the fact that Frederik Andersen was dealing with a groin injury and Garret Sparks found himself on the injury report with a concussion. Don’t get me wrong, for a third string netminder Hutchison held his own but he definitely would not have been the answer in terms of long run success. Obviously there has also been a lacking of scoring as well, at least by the Leafs standard. Prior to the past 7 games the Leafs averaged 3.79 goals per game but over the slumping 7 they have only been able to muster up 2.43 goals per game. Although a smaller sample size, it is clear that teams have begun to tighten up on the back end and figure out how to slow down the Buds various weapons. Speaking of tightening up on the back end, I wouldn’t mind seeing some adjustments on Toronto’s defensive scheme or staff for that matter. I will make it clear that I was out ahead on what we will call “The Dislike of Jake Gardiner” but Leaf fans as a whole finally seem to be coming to their senses and drowning out the terrible media takes on the defensemen. The fact that the other night was one of the first incidents where he was being booed by fans baffles me. This also led me to express my opinion on Twitter:
Based on what I’ve seen from the Leafs over the last 2 weeks or so, I once again do not feel confident about a deep playoff run by this team. There are so many different issues on any given night whether it’s the defense, scoring, grittiness, you name it. The toughness factor has also been something the Leafs have lacked, not just this year but in years past as well. The league has obviously seen some changes in terms of player types in recent years but not having a guy like Tom Wilson, Ryan Reaves or Brad Marchand leaves a gaping hole throughout the lineup. If we do not have someone willing to get to the dirty areas and put a body on someone then we will never have a chance against the league powerhouses. These weak stick check battles are the reason we are losing tight games, just take a look at the first Colorado empty netter from Monday night for example. Leafs win the draw in the offensive zone Matthews lazily reaches for the puck gets out worked and Calvert scores from his own zone. Game. That just can’t happen, this is the big time, if decisions aren’t made soon, the Leafs could be in for another depressing season with nothing to show for themselves.