As the Toronto Maple Leafs approach their 30th game of the season, we can come to the conclusion that we really have no conclusion as to what kind of team they are. There have been so many positives and yet, just as many negatives that it is really difficult to fully know what to expect of them. That is true for the rest of the season and, assuming they make it, the playoffs as well. The question we will try to answer is whether the glass is half empty or half full.
The Leafs are currently second in the Eastern Conference which is fantastic, yet they surely don’t look like a top tier team on many nights. For example, they got out played by the Calgary Flames recently giving up 47 shots and yet somehow managed to win 2-1 in overtime. Teams that continuously give up this many shots rarely, if ever, make any noise in the playoffs. So it’s a little difficult to be optimistic about the postseason.
Frederik (can we start calling him Freddy now?) Andersen has been spectacular of late and was one of the NHL’s Top 3 Stars for the month of November. He was 9-2-1 during that time with a miniscule 2.14 goals against average, not to mention a .938 save percentage. What is funny though is that just before that, some people were questioning whether or not he was truly a number one goalie and deserving of his 5 year contract. Which goalie shows up the rest of the year and which goalie shows up in the playoffs is still uncertain. That is just one example of the schizophrenic year that Leaf fans have been dealing with. Is he good or ain’t he? Not sure if anyone can be certain one way or another, but one thing we can be certain of is that our hearts can’t take much more of this stress. What’s worse it that it doesn’t stop with him either.
William Nylander has had or may even still be in a scoring slump. There was a stretch recently where he had only 1 goal in 17 games. His drought affected other areas of his game and Coach Mike Babcock wound up demoting him to the 4th line. Most players, specially with his skill set, are just too good to stay in a slump and with the correct mental attitude he should be able to come out of it. Therefore it may not be as much of a concern, but I bring it up because … well, because it feels like deja vu doesn’t it.
Earlier this season, Mitch Marner was also in a slump and he also was demoted to the 4th line. It certainly brings to life one of the main fears we had at the beginning of the season. How would the sophomore jinx affect the Maple Leafs who have so many of them this year. Although it affected him earlier and he is back to playing with his usual linemates (Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk) he still isn’t having the offensive year we would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of time for him to pick up the pace and he will need to do so when the playoffs approach.
— Sporting News NHL (@sn_nhl) August 16, 2017
Enough of slumps right? I mean thankfully this drop in play hasn’t affected Auston Matthews right? Oh wait. After coming back from his injury, Matthews scored two goals against the Montreal Canadiens, coincidentally enough, after being put on a line with Marner. But he too has not been his usual self and even registered his very first game without a shot on net. Et tu Matthews?
It really isn’t difficult to understand then why so many Maple Leafs fans are uncertain with how the rest of the season will go. The buds give up way too many shots and their top 3 young forwards have gone or are still going through slumps, not to mention some of the unsteady play of their goaltender. Yet, despite all of that, they are still, remarkably, in second place in the Eastern Conference. Even more incredible though, is imagining just how good this Maple Leafs would actually be if Anderson played like he has for the past 5 weeks and if Nylander, Marner and Matthews never slumped? They’d be scary good and it makes me salivate just thinking about it.
So maybe the proper question is not if the glass is half full or half empty, but what alcohol is being used in the glass as all Leaf fans (yours truly included) will need more and more of it if the season continues like this the rest of the way.
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