Maple Leafs: Why it’s too early to panic about team’s performance

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs reacts after the Maple Leafs 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden . (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs reacts after the Maple Leafs 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden . (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a 6-5-3 start and fans and the media are starting to make a big deal about it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs finished the month of October with a 4-3 overtime loss against the Washington Capitals last night. It’s safe to say that the first month of the season didn’t go exactly as planned for the team.

While it’s true that the Leafs haven’t looked great, there’s reason for optimism. John Tavares has missed the last six games with a broken finger, but he’s almost through the two-week timetable that was given for his return. Travis Dermott made his season debut last night, and Zach Hyman should be back shortly. It’s easy to forget that this team is missing key pieces right now and this is nowhere near what the full healthy roster will look like.

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There’s also the issue of the backup goaltender situation. Michael Hutchinson has started 4 of the first 13 games and has lost all 4, going 0-3-1. He can hardly take all of the blame for Saturday night’s loss against the Montreal Canadiens, but the team isn’t winning when he’s in net.

Is there a reason to be optimistic and think that he can turn things around? Well not really.

But it does mean that the Leafs are 6-2-2 in games started by Frederik Andersen, which is reassuring. With limited cap space, it will be interesting to see how the backup goalie situation develops throughout the season. Toronto may not have a ton of options, but don’t be surprised to see them move on from Hutchinson if this continues.

The Leafs will have to battle in November and pick up points in games they’re expected to win, as nine of their 14 games will be on the road. That includes their longest road trip of the season. A six-game road trip in the middle of the month that will see them start in Pittsburgh and then head out west to play Vegas, Arizona, and Colorado.

The trip finishes with games in Detroit and Buffalo. Although this will be a tough stretch of games for the Leafs, they only see two back to back situations the entire month. This will give Andersen a chance to start the majority of games and get into a groove, and hopefully give the front office time to figure out what to do with Hutchinson.

There’s no need to panic as a Leafs fan. Yes, it’s been a frustrating start for sure, but there’s no reason this team can’t flip the switch and rattle off five or six wins in a row.

Once this team is fully healthy for a good stretch of games we’ll be able to better evaluate where they’re at. For now, just sit back, relax, and try to enjoy the hockey.

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Do you think the return of key players will get Toronto playing better hockey? Will this team still meet the high expectations given to them at the beginning of the season? Let us know in the comments below.