The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their road trip in the desert, where the Arizona Coyotes dominated for the entire game in what was a frustrating effort.
While losing 2-0 to the Arizona Coyotes in February isn’t the end of the world for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it seems like they fall for the same trap against struggling teams.
The brand of hockey the Leafs play is exciting and teams either attempt to run and gun with them, or frustrate them by blocking shots or clog the passing lanes. It seemed like the forwards weren’t into the game other than Nazem Kadri and William Nylander; we know this because Mike Babcock tried to get Auston Matthews going, by playing him with Mitch Marner.
After the game, the team didn’t seem too concerned about their performance because, for the most part, they’ve been able to overcome them. However, it is still frustrating to see them play down to their opponent’s style of game.
Matthews laid it out plain and simple when he spoke to the media postgame.
"“They outworked us in a lot of different areas and we really didn’t have an answer,” he told Sportsnet‘s Chris Jonhston."
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Sure the team is 7-1-1 over their past nine games, which is a solid stretch, but when you look at the wild-card standings, the Boston Bruins are right their fighting for second place. Leafs fans wouldn’t feel safe playing Boston in round one, especially if the Bruins earn home-ice advantage.
Give the Coyotes credit; they executed their system perfectly, keeping the Leafs in their zone for prolonged periods and finding the opportune times to strike.
It won’t get any easier for the Leafs as they will travel to St. Louis on Monday before taking on the red-hot Blues, who have caught lightning in a bottle by winning nine of their past 10 games. They are the type of team who likes to suffocate any top offensive team, which they did back in a 4-1 win in Toronto.
This is the perfect type of game for the Leafs to show they can outwork a team that wants to scrap and claw for a win. That will be the final contest of a six-game road trip for Toronto, who will then play the next four at home before a much-anticipated trip to Long Island in John Tavares‘ first appearance at the Coliseum against the Islanders.
If the Leafs can prove they can learn from a game like this, then it might ease some of the concern Leafs fans will have in a potential series against the Bruins (if that ends up being the matchup).
What did you think about the Leafs’ effort against the Coyotes? Does it make you concerned that this could be an issue in the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.