After winning five games in a row, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings last night. That loss ended the team’s winning streak at five games. Toronto now has a record of 7-5-1 to start the season. In this post, I’ll share my three takeaways from the game.
Takeaway One: Bad Starts Spell Disaster
The Maple Leafs started badly and couldn’t come back. The team’s biggest flaw was that it didn’t play solid defense during the first period and gave up two goals that were exactly the same – they got beat coming off the wall, a Kings’ player came in on goalie Jack Campbell, and beat him right-side high. Those two goals were the game.
From my perspective, those two defensive mistakes and the two goals that weren’t saved by goalie Jack Campbell were the difference between success and failure on the night. It’s probably true that the John Tavares line played well after that both offensively and defensively, but it was one of those nights where the team just couldn’t come back. They tried hard, but they have too many early errors to overcome.
On the season, this team seems to fall behind too often and then have to press. That’s not a formula that will spell success, even in the regular season. The Kings were able to withstand the Maple Leafs’ offense, and added a couple of late-game goals for the bigger margin.
Takeaway Two: Intensity, Intensity, Intensity
As suggested in Takeaway One, no matter how well a team plays during the last two periods, it’s tough to come back from two goals very easily. The feel-good taste of an impressive win over the Boston Bruins didn’t last in the Maple Leafs’ mouths.
The team had played great for a couple of games in a row, but not one after another. Tonight was a game they could have won if the Kings didn’t score during the first period.
Sure opponents have good teams with quality players, but this game was more about the Maple Leafs’ lack of intensity out of the gate than the other team’s players. The opening face-off went right to the Maple Leafs’ net, and that same thing happened for the first 20 minutes.
It’s baffling that a team shows the formula for a strong win one game and forgets it the next. Until the Maple Leafs sort out that issue, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Not to take credit away from the good play during the second and the third periods. The Maple Leafs actually took over the game, but they didn’t take over the scoresheet. The goals didn’t come and the final score came down to those two goals that came early for the Kings.
Toronto had the majority of the play, the shots, and the scoring chances. But these came way too late and they couldn’t score the second goal when the score was 3-1. The intensity was too little too late.
Takeaway Three: Jack Campbell Isn’t Perfect
After several games of winning games for his team, Jack Campbell didn’t do that last night. He gave up four goals on 28 shots and his team lost 5-1 at home to Los Angeles. It was Campbell’s first game against his former team, and they beat him.
At the same time, the Kings extended their own winning streak and stopped the Maple Leafs’ winning streak at five. Campbell’s still playing well on the season, and he’s built up a 6-3-1 record, a goals-against-average of 2.09, and a save percentage of .929 on the season.
But Campbell is not perfect; and, when his teammates can’t score and also give up open rushes, he won’t stop everything. Tonight he didn’t stop enough pucks.
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