Toronto Maple Leafs Week in Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
It was a tough week for the Maple Leafs and their fans. After a great 4-2 win over the Rangers on Monday, the Maple Leafs dropped the next game the very next night in overtime to New Jersey 3-2, and then collapsed on Friday night in a 4-2 loss to the Capitals.
While getting three points out of a possible six isn’t bad, the way the Maple Leafs accumulated them is. These three opponents played very good hockey against the Leafs and for the most part the Leafs just couldn’t find the back of the net when they had the chance.
Here is the Maple Leafs week in review: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the past seven days.
The Good: Three Points
Most Leafs fans thought that three or four points could be an achievable goal for this week. If they could pick up a win or overtime loss against either the Rangers or Capitals and then beat the Devils, then they would have a successful week.
However they failed to beat the Devils when they were given the chance. The game against the Rangers was easily their best. They never trailed in the game and killed off four of five penalties. This with Jonas Gustavsson in net and against a Rangers team that is starting to find its groove as they sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference heading into this upcoming week.
They battled hard the very next night against New Jersey and, while they got themselves into an early hole, they managed to get out of it with one point. So. while beating New Jersey should have been the easy part of the week, it didn’t turn out that way. Still, the Maple Leafs are in a playoff position. They have gone 5-4-1 over their last ten and are still two points up on ninth place Montreal. If the Maple Leafs continue to have games like they did against the Rangers, they will continue to solidify themselves in a playoff position.
The Bad: Giving Up Early Leads
In both the games against New Jersey and Washington, the Leafs found themselves down two-nothing before they could answer back. On Tuesday against the Devils, the Maple Leafs gave up two power play goals within three minutes of each other. While they did hold them off until the overtime period, they didn’t make it easy on themselves against future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. They consistently had pressure on him but he came up with huge saves time and time again.
In the game against the Capitals, the Leafs gave up one goal in the first, another two in the second and one more in the third. The first two were scored by Dennis Wideman and it wasn’t until Phil Kessel scored more than half way through the period that the Leafs found an answer.
The Leafs have been scoring goals on a regular basis thus far but they need to start scoring them first. In their last five games, they have only been the first team to score first once. It’s great to be a team that doesn’t get down on themselves when they are able to always come back but the Leafs haven’t shown they have that knack or ability to consistently do that just yet. Therefore scoring first needs to start being more of a priority with this club.
The Ugly: 7 Power Play Goals
The Leafs took 17 penalties over this week's three games and they allowed the other team to score on seven of those shorthanded opportunities. For a team that was being praised a few weeks ago for their developing special teams, they seemed to have hit a bump in the road.
The scary thing is, if you take away the penalties and four PP goals against in the Washington game, they still allowed three goals on nine power plays. The special teams needs to be better, no question about it.
If they can’t stop the other team every now and then, they are going to find themselves having to come back in a lot of games, which also is an issue in the previous slide. Maybe the Maple Leafs need to look at just staying out of the penalty box and maybe this will help when it comes to all those power play goals allowed.
Looking Ahead: Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks
This will be another week in which the Maple Leafs play back to back nights. They kick things off when the Hurricanes come to town on Tuesday and then visit Buffalo on Friday before hosting the Canucks on Saturday. The Maple Leafs should be well rested for that back to back game as they get two days in between the Hurricanes and Sabers.
The Hurricanes have not been quick to start this year and the Maple Leafs need to jump on them right out of the gate and avenge a loss that occurred earlier in the year. Then, when they visit Buffalo, it will be a big divisional battle as they are only separated by one point in the standings going into this week. When the Canucks arrive in Vancouver, the Maple Leafs will need to be on their toes as they have the scoring prowess of the Sedin twins and company. And with Roberto Luongo starting to get his game back (4-0-0, 1.44, .940 in last 4 games played), the Leafs will need to capitalize on every chance.
Last week I said the Leafs could get 4 points and they ended up with three. This week won’t be pretty but if they could find a way to beat at least one of these teams it and force an OT with another, they will find themselves still in the running. Look for them to add three points by week’s end.