Last night’s 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was the worst game I have seen this team play this season since the drumming back in Pittsburgh earlier on in the season. The team lost its way defensively last night and didn’t generate much offense for any real sustainable amount of time. As the Twitterverse does after any loss, panic set in and calls to fire everyone reign supreme. You would think the Maple Leafs were playing for their playoff lives or something, and not some loss of game 78.
Twitterverse also gave way to tweets like “How can a team who has Stanley Cup asperations lose so badly, this Leafs’ team is a joke and will be one done in the playoffs” all this after one bad game in a stretch where the Leafs have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL. So let’s break this down a little, and let me share some other interesting scores this season to see if other contenders have or haven’t gone through this:
- December 14th, 2021: Florida Panthers 2- Ottawa Senators 8
- December 30th, 2021: Tampa Bay Lightning 3- Florida Panthers 9
- December 1st, 2021: Colorado Avalanche 3-Toronto Maple Leafs 8
- April 4th, 2021: Tampa Bay Lightning 2-Toronto Maple Leafs 6
What do these games all have in common? That really great teams can have off nights, in the grind of an 82 game season, it is impossible to expect perfection every game. We in Leafs Nation, live and die by every shift, every period, and every game that we lose sight of the bigger picture. No team, is as good as their best game or as bad as their bad game, that is why at the 78 game mark of the season we need to look at the overall body of the team’s work.
Here is what the Maple Leafs are at game 78 of the 2021/2022 Season:
- Tied for 3rd overall in the NHL.
- Their record in the last 10 games of 7-2-1 is the second best in the Atlantic Division.
- 4th overall in Goal Differential.
- 1st overall on the Power Play in the NHL.
- 8th best Penalty Kill in the NHL.
- Set the franchise record wins and points in a regular season.
- Maple Leafs have 7 players with 50 points or more on the season.
One other thing about this Leafs team, after that beat down in Pittsburgh in early fall, was that the Leafs then went on to play some of their best hockey right until the New Year, and still hold one of the better winning records against teams in the playoffs notwithstanding last night’s loss.
Last night’s loss will have no baring on what is looking like a first match-up against Tampa, just as much as the 6-2 win will impact any final outcome either.
Another intangible that shouldn’t be overlooked was how the Maple Leafs met Tampa Bay punch for punch last night. The Maple Leafs showed some push back which in the past would have been the criticism in games where the physicality meter goes up, the additions of IIya Lyubushkin, Mark Giordano, Colin Blackwell, returnees Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, showed that the Maple Leafs won’t back down and that should be another positive sign come playoffs.
So yes, the loss last night as bad as it was sucks and no one likes to watch their favorite team lose as badly as the Maple Leafs did, but the sky isn’t falling and none of it matters in two weeks when the playoffs start and every team starts back at zero.
So keep “BeLeafing”, as we know the playoffs are unpredictable so don’t count the boys in Blue and White out, I am confident that the Maple Leafs will breakthrough the first round for what should be a deep run. Because the only team I am confident that can beat the Maple Leafs is themselves, so if they can find some confidence and beat Tampa then don’t surprised by the magic that comes after.