The Toronto Maple Leafs season has already seen many ebbs and flows. There are many ups and downs during the year in any sport. It can be hard to remember that in both the high and low moments. It is human nature to get caught up in extremes. Followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs are prime examples. Plus, it’s boring to not project potential outcomes. From “Fire everyone!” to “Stanley, here we come!”, being passionate is part of the deal when fans get attached to a team.
The Leafs started yet another regular season with the “only the playoffs” matter cloud hanging over their head. Past playoff failures put extra pressure on their general manager, head coach, and core players. Preseason questions revolved around management’s decisions to address the team’s goaltending, lack of depth at forward, and their continued commitment to the same core of players that have been unable to shed the playoff demons. The season is barely past the 10-game mark and there has rarely been a dull moment.
Toronto Maple Leafs Season Highs And Lows
Team and Star Players Start Slow
The first 10 games of the schedule set up nicely for the Leafs to start the season on a strong note. Many home games out of the gate, followed by a road trip against less-than-stellar competition. So, naturally, the Leafs looked rather ordinary in some early victories then proceeded to lose four in a row on the road trip. Two of the losses came against expected bottom feeders San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. This after previously losing a home game against the perennial doormat Arizona Coyotes.
On top of that, star players Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner had a hard time finding the net. Offseason acquisitions were not pulling their weight and contributing on offence. Injuries to defenceman Jake Muzzin and new starting goaltender Matt Murray added to the misery. The calls for change started. Speculation began about who should replace head coach Sheldon Keefe. Should potential lame-duck GM Kyle Dubas maintain the responsibility of making in-season transactions that will affect the team’s future? Quickly forgotten was the fact that this start was similar to last season.
Too Early For Definitive Statements to be Made
Last year the Leafs also started slowly. It took an overtime comeback against an inferior opponent to get them pointed in the right direction. They went on to set numerous team records. Matthews also started slow. Yet, sixty goals later, along with the Rocket Richard and Hart trophies, he ended up doing okay.
Muzzin and Murray were likely candidates to be injured based on their history. How the Leafs respond during their absence will be important. Their other new goalie addition, Ilya Samsonov, was playing above expectations but is now also injured. Potential disaster, depending on how much time they miss. Yet, free agent defector Jack Campbell is giving up goals by the boatload in Edmonton. While the slow starts of Matthews and Marner caused concern, history suggested it was likely a blip. Turns out star players aren’t averse to slumps. The regular season needs to play out with a larger sample size of games before definitive statements should be made.
Leafs Showing Signs of Improvement
After the disastrous ending of their western road trip, a funny thing happened. A market correction. The Leafs returned home with a solid victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. This was followed by a win over their hated rival the Boston Bruins. In an unlikely coincidence, their key players remembered how to score during these victories. John Tavares has had a great start to the year. Matthews is back to scoring. Marner is putting up assists and will get his fair share of goals before long.
Upcoming games against stiffer competition will tell us more about his team. There will be many stories and more ebbs and flows to come during the Toronto Maple Leafs season.