As one attempts to read the pulse of Toronto Maple Leafs‘ supporters, you wonder which scenario has made their stomach turn more. Would it be the epic collapse in last season’s Game 7 playoff-tilt with the Boston Bruins? Or could it be the annual tease of progress this franchise puts its fans through?
Last year’s debacle will forever leave a bitter taste, but the continuous taunting of reaching next-level status by this organization shatters the big-picture scale.
Is some slack warranted? When you consider that prior to the the Leafs’ recent buckling under pressure (now eight straight defeats and nine in its last 10 games), this squad’s future was seemingly bright, sitting in the Eastern Conference three-seed. The city’s hardcore enthusiast’s would answer with a resounding negative connotation.
Even with the surrounding and persistent pessimism, second chances for a club hailing from hockey’s “center of the universe” will always be in attendance. The fact that the Maple Leafs’ own the fatal-combo of residing in the NHL‘s No.1 ranking for SA/G (shots against per game), coupled with the 28th overall position in penalty-killing percentage, does not go unnoticed, however, like clockwork, it’s inevitably forgiven.
What makes this recent crumbling of Leafs’ discipline so frustrating is the statistical insanity the losing-steak holds. As coming in to this matchup, Toronto had been outscored 14-6 in the first period, while owning the lead for a mere 7:15 of ice time across the entire seven games.
As much as the majority wouldn’t admit it, the odds of prevailing in Saturday night’s playoff-race dogfight vs. the Detroit Red Wings were not on the side of the Blue and White.
Hope was knocking early as the mission of trumping its first period demons was accomplished, but even the No.1 ranked home-ice power play unit couldn’t stand in the way of the Red Wings’ attempted journey to its 23rd straight postseason appearance. Not to mention the Maple Leafs’ continued suffering from self-imposed mishap syndrome in its own zone.
What is at the core of this current downfall? Has Randy Carlyle lost the room? Was the early season success just a masquerade of the teams’ true colors? Are the lines of miscommunication between the forwards and defensemen the root of all this evil?
Hockey-town is foaming at the mouth for playoff success, but if all this organization is going to do is scratch and crawl its way into a final postseason spot, I’m afraid that eternal letdown feeling will never dissipate.
Was there effort displayed in this tilt? Maybe even a little heart? Indeed, but was yet again proven unsustainable. This “must-win” represented the Maple Leafs’ ongoing state of affairs, a microcosm of the past, present — and you might just be able to mix in the future as well.
There still remains some entertainment however, those camera close-ups of the puzzled GM in the press-box will never get old.