The Leafs showed a lot of rust last night after returning from their buy week, and went on to lose in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings to a score of 3-2.
They didn’t show much work ethic or any real chemistry, but managed a point from what I’d describe as pure skill alone. Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau lead the Leafs with a goal and assist each. Those totals gave Marleau 2g and 4pts in his past 5 games, after having gone 9 straight games without a point. It gave Matthews 2g and 3pts in his past 2 games, after having only scored 1 goal in the 13 games prior.
Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come because getting some players back on track offensively down the stretch needs to be priority #1 for the coaching staff. Taking a closer look at a powerplay that went 0 for 5 last night would go a long way toward getting some players their confidence back.
Likewise, it would make teams think twice about taking liberties around the Leafs crease like what we saw last night from Jacob De La Rose. It wasn’t what I’d deem a hard hit to Frederik Andersen, but it was enough to warrant a response, and it’s sad to see your goalie be the only guy to stand up and try to push back against a player that crashes the crease like that. If their powerplay was more dangerous then teams might back off a little. If it’s producing like it is right now then maybe they need to seriously think about adding a heavier presence back into the lineup. Either way, there should have been a response from somebody outside of Freddy himself.
The Leafs’ powerplay has dropped to 12th in the league, with a 21.3% success rate. Their penalty kill has also started to fall to the middle of the pack, now 11th best in the league with an 80.9% success rate.
Whatever it was that made this team special to begin the year has been lost over the past couple of months. I want to believe they can find it again but when you watch a fast team play a slow game, like they did last night and many other nights over the past couple of months, it’s tough to blame fans for being less than thrilled about the current roster and coaching strategies.
Let’s hope they continue the trend of showing up against playoff teams again tonight, because I have $20 and bragging rights riding on the outcome!!
Garret Sparks starts for the blue and white, he’ll see Matt Murray between the pipes on the other end. It also seems as if the Matthews/Marner experiment has ended as #16 will return to John Tavares’ wing.
#Leafs lines in warmups vs. Penguins:
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 2, 2019
No prediction tonight. Maybe I’m jinxing it?
GO LEAFS GO!!