Toronto Maple Leafs learn valuable lesson in loss to Oilers

Losing 6-4 to the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs should have learned a valuable lesson after seeing their winning streak end.

One thing NHL players have learned about Connor McDavid is that for every inch you give him, he’ll make you pay and the Toronto Maple Leafs found that out the hard way Monday night.

All night, McDavid was knocking on the dor with chance after chance to score until he pulled off one of the more ridiculous moves you will ever see a player make. Unfortunately for Morgan Rielly, there’s only so much you can do on a play like that and you just have to move on from it.

As for the rest of the team, this game should serve as a reminder of a couple of things. For starters, you can’t take five penalties and expect it to not affect the outcome of the game considering it takes your top offensive players out of the game.

The other thing, and the most important, if that’s the type of defensive effort we’re going to expect from this team against star players like McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they shouldn’t expect to go far in the playoffs.

Granted, they were without Jake Muzzin who would have probably seen more shifts against McDavid but injuries are going to happen and can’t be the excuse. Right from the start, the Leafs didn’t establish any toughness when it comes to limiting the space McDavid had to work with, rather he was given free lanes to the net at times.

This was an Oilers’ team that was coming off a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins where Mike Smith stood on his head and got timely goals. Even though Edmonton has been through a rough stretch, McDavid and Draisaitl have shown that they can carry the team and that’s what they did against the Leafs.

As for Toronto’s response to what happened, Frederik Andersen —who was mercifully pulled by Sheldon Keefe — didn’t sugarcoat what he thought went wrong.

“I saw we got into trouble if you don’t support each other. A lot of their goals, their skilled showed a little bit too much,” Andersen told reporters after the game. “A lesson that we need to stick together more. Even though it’s been a good stretch for us, I think we can’t expect it to go our way every night, unless we work for it.”

After reports suggested that Rasmus Sandin could be an option sooner rather than later, the Leafs would be wise to reward either him or Timothy Liljegren for how well they have played with the Toronto Marlies. Martin Marincin isn’t exactly a long-term solution you want to see go up against star players.

While some may prefer to see Sandin and Liljegren get their chance to continue developing in the AHL, if they have proven that they are ready to play in the NHL, it’s tough to justify holding them back.

The Leafs will have some tough games upcoming including a rematch with the Winnipeg Jets, plus some tougher clubs like the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, and Dallas Stars. While you can’t take away, what this team accomplished over this last stretch, the Leafs can’t get complacent considering it’s only the midway point of the season.

Next: How Justin Holl’s contract benefits team going forward

What were your thoughts on this game? Was there anything concerning that the Leafs should try to address right away? Let us know in the comments below.

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