In John Tavares’ return to Nassau Coliseum, the Toronto Maple Leafs defence gets exposed in a playoff-like atmosphere.
Clearly, his teammates didn’t get the memo.
After the first period, the Leafs were in good shape tied 1-1, but after brutal turnovers and a disallowed goal, Toronto let the game get away from them. Sure not having Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott in the lineup was going to be tough, but the blue line was a disaster after Zach Hyman‘s goal was disallowed.
It starts with Jake Muzzin, who was exploited for two of the goals-against, while Martin Marincin looked like a player who was the last resort since Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman weren’t available. It was so tough, Mike Babcock already said Igor Ozhiganov would be back in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Buffalo.
More from Toronto Maple Leafs
- Maple Leafs Rumours: Half of NHL teams interested in Ilya Mikheyev
- Toronto Maple Leafs: How to address the goaltender position
- Leafs reward Timothy Liljegren with extension after breakout season
- Maple Leafs: Jack Campbell situation becoming increasingly uncertain
- Jason Spezza retires, joins Toronto Maple Leafs front office
What was more telling about this game was that Tavares, Hyman and Mitch Marner was the best line on the ice along with the fourth line in terms of possession. Auston Matthews‘ and William Nylander‘s lines didn’t seem to have any rhythm or dangerous chances.
That cannot happen in a situation like this and maybe that was something that should have changed. If this was a playoff game, the Leafs would be in big trouble and Babcock acknowledged that after the game.
Teams go through injuries and you’re not going to have your best performance night in and night out, but considering the build-up leading into this game, this should not be acceptable. You can put this on the coach for not getting his players ready or the numerous injuries putting the team in a tough place.
While he wasn’t the sole reason for the loss, this was a tough game for Garret Sparks who couldn’t settle things down when the Leafs needed him to. Sure not all the goals were his fault but when you give up six, it’s not easy to defend any player. If the Leafs need points in the standings down the stretch it doesn’t look like Frederik Andersen will get as many nights off.
Simply put, the Leafs weren’t able to weather the storm and while it was a disappointing night for Tavares and Toronto, it should serve as a warning to Babcock that he’ll need to find a solution to his team’s performance in a game like this.
What did you think about the Leafs’ effort against the Islanders? Does it make you worried about their games down the stretch and the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.