When a team loses to an emergency goalie, it’s hard to see it getting any worse but this is the Toronto Maple Leafs we’re talking about here.
Blowing a 5-1 lead and losing in overtime to the Ottawa Senators definitely hurts but in no way does it even come close to taking the top prize for embarrassing losses. At the same time, there is really no excuse for how it all played out and if the team cannot learn its lesson from it, the doubts will start to creep in once again.
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Sheldon Keefe said after the game that the Leafs gave the game away to the Senators and while it’s an honest assessment, it’s also concerning. For most of the season, Toronto has been solid when they’ve had the lead but in the last two games, they have come apart in the third period.
If the team wants to focus on one thing to improve on, it should be the number of giveaways they average every night. According to NHL.com, the Leafs lead the league with 190 giveaways which equates to 11.79 giveaways per 60 minutes.
There are many factors that lead to a team being this careless with the puck and in the Leafs case, part of it comes from being pushed physically by teams that want to wear them down. Another is the tendency to sit back and take the foot off the gas and when the other team senses that, they pounce.
Considering how much of their game relies on possession, you would think the coaching staff would be stressing to the players to be more diligent with the puck. If the message doesn’t start to get through soon, you wonder if this team will ever play with the discipline it needs to succeed in the playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Galchenyuk’s addition puts forwards on notice
When you look at the Leafs’ bottom six, there are certainly a lot of interchangeable pieces. This is why Alex Galchenyuk will get his opportunity once he gets acclimated to the roster.
Fortunately for the Leafs, acquiring Galchenyuk after he cleared waivers gives them a lot of flexibility and some insurance with their bottom six. There are certainly some players who should be feeling nervous with the addition of Galchenyuk especially Pierre Engvall, Jimmy Vesey and Alexander Barabanov.
What could be a bonus for the Leafs is if Galchenyuk is able to spend some time at centre because it’s that type of versatility that can help him carve out a role. He will need to come in and earn the trust of Keefe which is no easy task but the Leafs coach will give him a chance at least especially with the demands of the schedule affording players to earn a night off.
What did you think of the Leafs’ loss to the Senators? How do you see Galchenyuk fitting in with the team? Let us know in the comments below.