Toronto Maple Leafs still win despite ugly performance against the Carolina Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 24: Patrick Marleau
RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 24: Patrick Marleau /

The Toronto Maple Leafs struggled against the Carolina Hurricanes but a strong performance from Frederik Andersen bailed them out.

To say the Toronto Maple Leafs were fortunate to come away with two points agains the Carolina Hurricanes is hard to argue. Minus the second period where the offence was firing at all cylinders, the Hurricanes were all over the Leafs in this game but luckily Frederik Andersen was between the pipes.

In the first period the Leafs should have been trailing at least 3-0 it were not for Andersen being on his game early and often making 43 saves. It has been a theme the past two games where the Leafs struggled to get things going early on.

Unlike the last game against the Florida Panthers, the Leafs were not going up against Roberto Luongo and are fortunate that Cam Ward struggled in the second period. The Leafs slow start even prompted this message from Andersen after the game.

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At this point the Leafs have been doing a lot of experimenting with the lineup and that may have an effect on how they have been starting the game but the mistakes are still the same.

The inability to get the puck out of their own end allows their opponent to add to the number of scoring chances and this game was a prime example of what the Leafs need to avoid against top teams.

It might help that their next game against the Washington Capitals comes at home where they can control the matchups more but if they do not clean up the nasty habits they won’t be lucky a second time around.

It was encouraging to see Josh Leivo score after he was inserted in the lineup for Matt Marting, it was a trademark goal for the 24-year-old and maybe this encourages Babcock to keep him in the lineup for an extended period.

Right now it looks like Leivo would get the nod over NIkita Soshnikov to stay in if the Leafs were to put Martin or Dominic Moore back in the lineup but it would be too early to have Soshnikov come out of the lineup.

Patrick Marleau was one of the few players Babcock trusted while scoring his ninth of the season and Jake Gardiner had a couple of assists but struggled in his own end with Carolina getting a lot of chances with him on the ice.

The positive from this game should be that the Leafs have been finding ways to win even if they have not been playing at their best which is what Mike Babcock spoke about after the game.

It will not get any easier for the Leafs as they will be playing a long stretch of games on the road including the Western Canada trip. They will need their depth upfront to come through especially if Babcock continues to shuffle the lines.

It will be tough to have Andersen stop 40-plus shots a night especially if the team continues to come out of the gate slow but for now it is not a huge problem. The Leafs just need to put this ugly performance behind them and enjoy the two points.

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What did you think of the Leafs performance tonight? Is there a reason to be concerned with the Capitals up next? Let us know in the comments below.