After blowing a third period lead against the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs got a dose of reality early in the season.
Heading into the third period up 4-1 something changed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and once the floodgates open, the Montreal Canadiens weren’t letting them close easily.
This isn’t the first time the Leafs have lost a game with a three-goal lead and something tells me that it will probably happen again. That might not seem comforting but it’s a mindset the team needs to find a way to overcome.
Toronto has the talent to outscore teams at will, that hasn’t changed but that was supposed to be different this season. Either it’s still a work in progress or a tougher change than people were expecting.
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One thing coach Mike Babcock made sure to acknowledge in his postgame press conference was that the team left Michael Hutchinson out to dry. Kasperi Kapanen certainly did when he made the most bizarre decisions we’ve ever seen when he threw his broken stick at Jeff Petry.
Not only is that not allowed but it’s a penalty shot and at that point in the game with the Leafs lead cut down to 4-3, Montreal saw an opening, especially with Toronto coming off a back-to-back.
Another troubling trend was seeing the Habs get on the board in the early stages of the game much like Ottawa did on opening night. It’s hard to find an excuse for it because it seems like a mental blunder.
The positives you can draw from this game were obvious despite the team imploding in the third period. One clear one was that Auston Matthews continues to score at will with another two-goal performance including the tying goal late in the third.
Of course, the other was the play of the third line who led the way offensively and has been a big bright spot three games in. Alexander Kerfoot had a goal and two assists, Trevor Moore had a goal and a helper while Ilya Mikheyev added an assist.
Unfortunately, there were some glaring mistakes defensively that can’t be overlooked either. The top line and the fourth line had a rough night considering John Tavares had a CF% of 38.24, while Frederik Gauthier finished with a CF% of 20.
You can tell that Montreal’s speed and forecheck gave the Leafs a lot of trouble especially in their own end. Whether playing the night before had an impact isn’t really an excuse when you consider how well the Leafs were played for 40 minutes.
Going back to the decision made by Kapanen. It is inexcusable and at this point, if Babcock seems inclined to send a message to a veteran like Jason Spezza, Kapanen can’t be spared either. While his teammates were quick to come to his defence and he owned up to it, he hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt either.
Granted, it’s just one loss, but the Leafs now have a date with the Stanley Cup champions and if they don’t come ready to play a full 60 minutes, they’ll be in for a rough night.
What are your thoughts on the Leafs loss? What do you think they can learn from it? Should there be some changes considered? Let us know in the comments below.