For all that is said about the Maple Leafs having to deal with being in a national spotlight every single night, they sure seem to be longing for the days that the HBO cameras were in their locker room each day.
Through the last couple weeks of December, the Leafs won four of six games, including their battle with Detroit at the Winter Classic. But ever since those cameras left the locker room for good, the team has yet to win a single game in four tries – and has looked abysmal, to say the least.
Toronto has given up 21 goals in those four games, while scoring just seven in the same time period. The weak efforts culminated tonight with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals, after leading 2-1 early in the third period. The game was sloppy from the start, as the Leafs gave up 35 shots – furthering their “lead” as the team with the most shots allowed per game in the league.
All the statistics support that the Leafs have been struggling as of late – they rank in the bottom half of the league in even strength plus/minus, penalty kill, goals per game, goals against per game, faceoff percentage, and more. Considering the team was at the top of the Eastern Conference standings earlier this season, it’s mind-boggling how much of a dive they have taken.
Media and fans have begun humming the tunes of a coaching change, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with the players, and they simply are not getting the job done. It’s always easier to swap one coach than swap 20 players.
But if the team doesn’t shape up quickly, it wouldn’t matter if Toe Blake was behind the bench – the team would continue to play like a fringe-NHL squad.
Four of the Leafs’ next five games are against teams fighting for a playoff spot. They are already in the more difficult division in the East, and are struggling to jump over the Red Wings, Canadiens and Lightning.
Time is running out for Leafs Nation, it’s time to get off the pot and begin playing like the team that entered the Air Canada Centre back in October.