After another poor effort by his teammates after losing to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, Andersen had seen enough and made some interesting comments about his team’s effort in yet another tough loss. In the post game interview, Andersen stated “We’ve got to figure out who wants to commit to playing for the team” coming from the usually soft spoken Andersen, his comments should come as a wake up call to his teammates he was referencing.
That is what makes his honest and frank comments that much more poignant and make his teammates take notice. This is the same team (starting lineup) for the most part that started the season on fire and essentially scoring at will. They played a fast and loose game and even though the results and entertainment factor were great, this type of play wasn’t sustainable over the course of an 82-game season, much less in the playoffs.
Something had to change, so Coach Babcock took to enforcing a game plan that would match closer to playoff hockey to get his troops better prepared to play a more sustainable style of play. The fact that the results aren’t as some would like, speaks to some players being resistant to the effort and attention to detail required of them to win consistently in the NHL.
This where I feel the criticism lays blame on the players. Jake Gardiner, Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak have seen their play regress this season. In the case of Komarov and Bozak this could cost them this summer as they seek a new contracts this off-season. William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Nazem Kadri aren’t without their faults in the most recent run of poor results either. In the case of Marner and Nylander both have had a dose of reduced minutes and starting on the fourth line. Both have contributed in the miss plays that have lost Maple Leafs key points in the standings.
Andersen’s comments pull away the veil of protection of the locker room doors, it will be interesting to find out who in the room he was speaking about, but one thing is for certain he isn’t the only noticing this either as media, fans and management alike all see these issues. I would expect management to make some tweaks leading into the trade deadline to correct some of these issues if things don’t drastically change for the better.
Talent can only take you so far and what we are seeing in this latest run of poor results isn’t a deficit of talent but a deficit of effort throughout the lineup to do what is required to win. A team that had leads late in the third period should be able to close these games out. Poor reads on plays and bad pinches in on plays has cost this team greatly as of late. Tonight’s game against the Senators will be the first test for the players to see if Andersen’s comments resonated enough to bring about change and hopefully a better result.
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