Recently, the Toronto Maple Leafs losing streak has parts of Leafs Nation doubting the team. They have gone 1-5-0 in their last six games and have fallen out of first leaguewide. They’ve lost to teams they should be beating on a constant basis. Let’s take a look at what’s happening.
A Closer Look at the Recent Toronto Maple Leafs Losing Streak
There’s no reason to panic. The Leafs still hold first in the division, and it would take much more than this skid to put them anywhere close to missing the playoffs.
The Leafs have played eight games in the past fifteen days and had to travel across the country and back in the middle of these games. It’s not surprising that the Maple Leafs losing streak comes at a time of so many games in a short period of time. The North Division also has the unfortunate circumstances of having the worst travel for away games. It’s like Jake Muzzin said after the series against the Winnipeg Jets. They’re tired.
Jake Muzzin on series vs. WPG:
"It didn't go the way we wanted. There's some areas of our game we have to improve on: We've got to be cleaner in our zone and breakouts, spend too much time in the zone and fatigue and [we're not] as efficient as usual and we're tired."
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) March 14, 2021
The Leafs only have two games until March 25th. Two games in a span of ten days. This will give them plenty of time to rest, regroup, and come back as the best team in the North Division.
Looking at Each Game
Despite being a tired team, when we look at each game individually, the Leafs played like the better team for most of it. The Leafs had a higher xGF, as well as more shot attempts than their opponents in five of their last six according to Evolving Hockey, significantly outplaying their opponent in more than half. Play each game ten times, the Leafs come out of this six-game stretch just padding their division lead the bulk of the time.
An unlucky run was bound to happen. The Leafs were riding a 1.041 PDO prior to the first game against the Vancouver Canucks. That has come down to, a still high, but much more reasonable 1.019. The Leafs have had some great luck to start out the season. However, it was expected that they’d become unlucky for a stretch too.
The Leafs likely aren’t as godly as we initially saw from them. They are also nowhere near as bad as the results of the last six games would have you believe.
Leafs Losing Streak: The Real Issue
Okay, so we’ve gone over reasons why not to panic. Let’s maybe look at the one reason for concern. This is the best Toronto Maple Leafs roster I have seen in my lifetime. T.J. Brodie has come in and solidified the defence. Justin Holl has emerged as a legitimate top-four defenceman that’s not just carried by Jake Muzzin. Auston Matthews is one of the best players in the NHL. William Nylander is an incredible player and is playing like it. You get the point. There’s one real issue though:
More specifically, Frederik Andersen. Andersen has been struggling like this since December 2019. It’s no longer just a slump. While it is painful to admit because for three and a half years Andersen WAS the Toronto Maple Leafs defence, and now that they actually have a good defence group in front of him, he begins his decline.
Andersen’s time in Toronto should be looked upon fondly, as he saved them night in and night out for so many years. But now it seems he’s holding the team back. The Maple Leafs losing streak has been largely at the fault of goaltending. The hope is that Jack Campbell can step in and become a starter like the Dallas Stars thought he’d be when they drafted him 11th overall.
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