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Maple Leafs Losing to Poor Teams: Just Frustrating, or a Big Deal?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a pattern of losing to poor teams. Is this only frustrating, or is it a big deal and something to worry about?

The question I am addressing in this post concerns the Toronto Maple Leafs’ on-going pattern thIs season of losing to teams it should beat easily. Is this pattern “just” frustrating; or, Is It something to worry about?

The Maple Leafs Have Lost Seven Games to Poor Teams

If I remember correctly, the Maple Leafs have lost seven games on the season to five of the teams with the poorest records in the NHL. They’ve lost two games to the Arizona Coyotes, two games to the Montreal Canadiens, and a game each to the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks, and (on Saturday night) to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

That kind of performance by the Maple Leafs is frustrating for fans to witness. Given how Saturday’s game turned around completely after a dominant first period (the fourth straight dominant period the Maple Leafs had laid on the Blue Jackets), it would seem as if we are all witnessing a loss (or a lack) of mental toughness on the part of the Maple Leafs.

The team should know better; and, they can do better; yet, they don’t perform better.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Woll, Rielly, Gaudette & Shaw

Where Did the Maple Leafs Mental Toughness Disappear?

To my eye, the team simply stopped skating hard, playing solid defense, and taking care of the puck. They gave up four shots in the first period and upped that total of shots given up to 36 shots during the remainder of the second and third periods.

The poor play that began in the second period lasted that entire period; and, when the Maple Leafs tried to pick it up in period three, it just wasn’t there. They had moments (as in Morgan Rielly’s game-tying goal), but couldn’t sustain their level of play.

Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs allowed their young goalie Joseph Woll, who was playing his first game of the season, to be barraged with shots on his net. The lack of effort/mental toughness (or whatever it was that resulted in the poor play) started early in the second period and (more of less) it continued throughout the game.

When the Discipline Went, So Did Everything Else

In the end, the Maple Leafs lacked energy, displayed poor defensive zone coverage, got tired because they were chasing the puck around, and ultimately started to give up quality chances to their opposition – the Blue Jackets. Columbus made them pay.

In NHL hockey, mental toughness can be a huge factor in determining the outcome of a game. When the Maple Leafs are able to keep their focus and compete at a level high for an entire three periods, they win – almost every time.

Related: Whatever Happened to ex-Maple Leafs’ Josh Ho-Sang?

The Puck Bounces Crazy for Every NHL Team – So, Deal With It

Because hockey is a crazy game where the puck takes crazy bounces (for every team), things can go sour. The last Blue Jackets’ goal was a case in point. The puck wasn’t even close to the net, but it bounced off an opponent’s stick and into the net past goalie Woll. There was no way he could have suspected where it was going or have been prepared to stop it.

Every team faces that kind of bad luck. Even when things aren’t going their way, those teams who can keep their focus when the crazy happens and compete are usually the teams that come out on top.

Questions the Maple Leafs Need to Ask and Answer

Now some big questions arise: Have the Maple Leafs lost some of that mental edge? Was it only in this particular game? Or, is it only against teams they should beat – as noted above with seven losses of the 14 regulation losses and the eight overtime losses? That’s almost one-third of the losses this season to the NHL’s poorer teams.

Is this pattern something the team needs to work on in order to avoid similar performances in the future? Or, in the long run does it even matter? Will the Maple Leafs pick up their play when they go against those teams they need to work hard to beat?

Perhaps it isn’t a deal, but it worries me heading into the postseason.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-3 Loss to the Blue Jackets



  1. Mike

    February 13, 2023 at 3:05 am

    Very very well said, somewhat mind boggling how they can put on Jeckle and Hyde performances within a game.
    BTW diehard Comox Valley lifetime Leafs fan here.

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