Toronto Maple Leafs have been on a torrid run of form over the past ten games; having only won on half of their outings. It may not seem like much of an issue for most NHL teams, but this form and four defeats in the past ten are concerning times for the Leafs Nation.

It’s especially concerning when you consider that two of these losses have come at the hands of the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks; both teams that Stanley Cup hopefuls should be beating with no hesitation. It isn’t all concerning, as one of these losses came at the hands of the team that betting pundits at are tipping to win the Stanley Cup.

Even in this defeat against the leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the Leafs looks resigned to their fate and downed tools; and that includes Auston Matthews. Matthews was a sign of promising things to come when he finally made his long-awaited return in November after missing 14 games through a shoulder injury, but his recent form has dipped.

The saying of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ when considering Toronto’s season thus far, and it’s true they have been hampered by bad luck. Injuries to Travis Dermott and Jake Gardiner have certainly had a damaging effect on Mike Babcock’s ability to mix-and-match his lines. However, this shouldn’t be an excuse; as the Boston Bruins have done exceptionally well despite being in the same position as the Leafs. In other words, the Toronto Maple Leafs should have no excuses during matches to give up. It could be a mentality issue.

Babcock himself has been gaining criticism throughout the season for the usage of his star-studded roster. Ron Hainsey has been overplayed throughout the season, and that hasn’t been received well by the higher-ups at the franchise.

We could be approaching a time where general manager Kyle Dubas may have to have a stern word with his coach about fully utilising the rose that has been put together for him. But, history shows that this may end disastrously. Babcock has famously fallen out with general managers in the past, and some would argue this may not be the time to rock the boat as the plan than the coach has may come together when the playoffs start.

The Leafs are almost certainly destined to finish third in the Atlantic Division unless of course there is a further drop in their form that allows Montreal Canadiens to take their space, but this is a scenario that the Leafs Nation can’t even begin to fathom.

Crucially the Leafs must learn from matches that they have been involved in this season. They are a young team, and that’s exciting, but it’s only impressive if they learn from the lessons in time for the beginning of the Stanley Cup.

Even more importantly, the Leafs need to ensure they don’t give up during matches, and instead of letting up when they have the game in the palm of their hand; they should continue to push for more goals. This squad has so much skill and shouldn’t be an issue.

The recent form as of late has been a tough pill to swallow for Leafs fans’. At times it’s been downright embarrassing and confusing. But at the same time, there are still some bright sparks in even the most damaging results. The Leafs Nation take the good with the bad and leave out all the rest. One thing is for sure, once the playoffs start and the teams are decided; records mean nothing, and it is all about the here-and-now.


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