The Toronto Maple Leafs needed a win against a desperate Ottawa Senators, who’ve struggled as of late and with head coach D.J. Smith feeling the pressure. The Maple Leafs started off great, with William Nylander making it 1-0, extending his point-streak to 13 games to start the season, the most in franchise history.
But just as so many times before this season, the Maple Leafs looked terrible defensively, and in the third period, the Senators scored three goals in just over three minutes to go from 3-3 to 6-3.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been looking great offensively, with their star players performing and scoring loads of goals.
But they just can’t seem to shut down their opponents, and postgame, head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t shy away from how concerned he is.
“We sit in here and we celebrate guys who score big numbers and score a ton,” Keefe said. “We don’t talk enough about what we give up. That’s the reality. We have to prioritize keeping the puck out of our net.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs have allowed four goals or more in all seven home games this season, and looking at goals against per game, they rank 23rd in the league.
The NHL on TNT broadcasted the LA Kings-Vegas Golden Knights matchup, but when they showed highlights from the Maple Leafs’ game during one of the intermissions, analyst Paul Bissonnette, a known Toronto Maple Leafs fan, absolutely slammed their performance, which he called ‘disgusting.’
”It’s just ugly. You’re going to see the highlights … It’s as simple as this, it’s just lost coverage. No sticks in the lanes, no commitment to blocking the shots. Not protecting the most dangerous area on the ice, which is what we call; the house. Not taking away time or space. Awful gaps, not protecting the defensive blue line,” BizNasty said.
”The list goes on and on and on and on. I could use any time of verbiage to describe bad defensive play, and you’re seeing it here from the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s disgusting, and if they keep playing like this, they’re probably going to miss playoffs.”
Paul Bissonnette doesn’t feel like it’s a goalkeeper issue with the Maple Leafs, unlike other teams in the league.
”With the Oilers, everyone is blaming the goaltending. This is not a goaltending issue. This is a defensive zone, defensive structure, and a team commitment to playing defense issue. And if it’s not addressed, like I said, it’s going to get uglier, and uglier, and uglier. The complete opposite of what we’re seeing tonight between the LA Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights.”
Henrik Lundqvist also gave his share of criticism to the Maple Leafs.
”There’s so many east to west passes in their own end; that’s always a bad sign when you see that happen,” he said.”