Toronto Maple Leafs’ offence fails to show up during California road trip

Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped all three games on their California road trip as the offence fails to deliver when needed.

Heading out to the sunny west coast, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a great opportunity to build upon their three-game winning streak.

Instead, they return home wasting three strong goaltending performances as their offence produced only three goals against the California teams. Losing 2-1 against the Anaheim Ducks, Toronto showed once again that when the margin of error is slim, they struggle to get the results.

Considering their next stretch of games feature the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, and Boston Bruins, the Leafs will realize the missed opportunity they had to pick up what should have been some easier wins.

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Of course, there aren’t many easy games throughout an 82-game schedule but looking at where Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose are in the standings, there is no reason to go 0-2-1 on that trip.

If you want to pick out any positives from this week, the goaltending was definitely a bright spot considering Frederik Andersen hadn’t looked sharp since returning from his injury and Jack Campbell had to deal with some lacklustre play in front of him.

While some will point to the injuries the Leafs are dealing with, the Ducks were without Cam Fowler, Hamphus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Erik Gudbranson on Friday. So without their top four defencemen, the Ducks held the Leafs to a goal and that should say all that needs to be said about this terrible stretch of games.

The only player who had a noticeable impact against Anaheim was William Nylander who was a force all over the ice and finally got rewarded for it with his 30th goal of the season. Seeing him compete the way he did while Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares were held in check should bring into perspective that maybe Nylander’s contract isn’t as bad as some were making it out to be.

How many times do the players have to say that the team was half-in and not giving a full effort until something changes? Maybe, Sheldon Keefe needs to send a message by pushing players down the lineup when the effort isn’t there and elevate those who are showing some desire in their play.

Brendan Shanahan said recently that he likes that the Leafs are having to deal with adversity considering all good teams have to show that they can deal with tough challenges as they make their push towards winning a Stanley Cup.

"“Adversity is something you can either meet and grow from, or you can use it as an excuse,” Shanahan told reporters. “I like to think that our players are not using it as an excuse. It’s difficult to become a good team in the NHL, but I think it’s even more difficult to become an elite team.“One of the biggest separations between the elite teams and the good teams is consistency. That’s something we are trying to learn and develop, that ability to come out with that same peak effort. You’re never going to do it all 82 games in a row, but certainly doing it more often than not, but that’s something our guys are learning and something I’m very confident they are going to continue to grow at.”"

While the core of this team is still young, it shouldn’t take away from the fact that during this time where the Leafs are battling from their playoff lives, they haven’t gotten the production from everyone that is being paid to produce.

Matthews and Nylander have both exceeded their previous career-highs and will continue to make their presence felt. Tavares and Marner have had some frustrating moments but their offensive production would suggest that it’s not as bad as it may seem, but not at the level that is expected from them.

What this really comes down to is how the depth of the roster is performing and on nights where the stars are getting the focus, the third and fourth lines need to find ways to carry the workload.

If the California road trip showed anything, it’s that the Leafs haven’t been able to rely on their depth to show up and eventually that will have to change because the Leafs won’t be able to survive in the playoffs otherwise.

Next. Leafs still searching consistent effort. dark

What needs to change for the Leafs after their disappointing road trip? Can they turn things around? Let us know in the comments below.