Source: canadanewsmedia.ca via Toronto Sun
The Leafs are through 22 games so far and currently sit at an underwhelming 9-9-4 and are riding a 5 game losing streak. Toronto looks good on paper but on the ice, they’re the opposite. The Leafs played a Penguins team that was without their star player Sidney Crosby, stud d-man Kris Letang, and starting goalie Matt Murray wasn't in net. All signs pointed towards a possible Leafs victory. Not quite.
The Leafs were in the second game of a back to back, which means A) The Leafs lost. b) They gave up goals in bunches. Toronto looked sluggish and didn’t give much effort and have now put themselves in a position where they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.
The New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres, on paper, don't compare to Toronto's roster, yet are all ahead of them in the standings. The lack of success has resulted in rumours about Mike Babcock’s job, and looking at the team’s effort in the past few games a change may be needed.
These past 5 games (at the very least) have been quite a frustrating stretch for fans. The Leafs lost to the Flyers but also lost their star forward Mitch Marner, and what makes this stint, even more, concerning is their lack of ability to beat Boston. The Leafs couldn't handle the Bruins top line as Brad Marchand potted 2 goals in the victory.
The Leaf’s loss to the Penguins on Saturday might have been the wake-up call they needed. Toronto hasn't been so humble. Their top players felt the need to be paid amongst the best in the NHL, and from the outside looking in they seem feel entitled. All the questions on whether or not the Leafs young trio be signed were valid, but now all three of them are signed and the Buds look worse for wear.
A real question that people have to have to ask is; is anybody safe in Leafs land? Kyle Dubas, who give him credit, was able to jump through hoops to fill out this roster in the offseason could also be out of the job if the Leafs don’t turn things around. Tyson Barrie has taken a big dip this season, and Cody Ceci looks like a player who is struggling to keep a roster spot in the NHL.
Those big moves haven't paid off. Instead, those moves have made the defence look worse than last season.
On both sides of the ice Toronto just can't seem to find their footing. We are in year 5 of this "plan" and yet not the results are lacking, Toronto hasn’t hit rock bottom but it sure is starting to feel that way. Even Mats Sundin chimed in saying:
"All teams go through struggles every year, but you're very exposed in a market like Toronto."
There's a lot of pressure to perform here in Toronto, but when times are good it’s heaven playing for the Leafs, however when times are bad the sky is falling. Both Babcock and Dubas know this I’m sure.
Almost a third into the season and things haven't looked rosy. It might be now or never for the Leafs to bounce back in a big way, but it will be telling to see how strong this young core is battling through this early adversity. A much-improved effort is desperately needed on tonight against Vegas.