One factor it’s a must to say for followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs is that they’ve intensive expertise in watching the crew play seven video games and lose most of them. Whereas it’s no enjoyable for the franchise to hit its first ugly hunch by Halloween, nor to look so unfamiliar with the sport of hockey in a number of of these losses that you simply’d anticipate their skates to be laced with Velcro, that is nobody’s first time.
As such, a good slice of the fanbase isn’t taking part within the panic simply but. They level out that Toronto is final within the league in taking pictures proportion, one thing that isn’t prone to proceed contemplating they’ve been prime ten in that stat yearly since Auston Matthews entered within the NHL. They notice that as irritating as Mitch Marner’s begin to the season has been, one help in seven video games might be not the brand new regular for a 24-year-old who’s cleared point-per-game three years working. They acknowledge that Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie have underperformed, however that except the 2 of them have developed everlasting amnesia about which crew they’re alleged to cross to, the remainder of their season must be higher than the start.
Greater than all of that: these followers acknowledge that what persons are mad about greater than something is a protracted string of playoff failures. The truth is that no matter you considered the crew earlier than, two weeks of the common season shouldn’t flip all of it the other way up.
So. Relax. Proper?
After the primary interval towards Carolina, I tweeted that the Leafs weren’t enjoying all that properly, regardless of them being up 1-0 on the time. A good few folks responded that at this level they weren’t all that choosy how the Leafs received as long as they did. The Leafs helpfully resolved the argument by enjoying the second interval like full rubbish so that they neither received the sport nor deserved to, nevertheless it acquired me pondering.
Look, as brutal as Toronto has seemed the previous three video games, they actually, very probably aren’t the Twenty fourth-best crew within the league, and virtually nobody thinks they’re. If I needed to put cash down somehow I’d nonetheless be betting on them to make the playoffs. The issue is that we don’t simply need them to be a good common season crew. These are desk stakes for a Toronto squad with this cover sheet. What we wish is for them to indicate us one thing—something—that helps us imagine us the subsequent spring will probably be higher than the earlier 5.
And there hasn’t been a rattling factor.
Sports activities contain a specific amount of wishful pondering. Essentially the most jaded followers will discuss sport about their indifference, however loads of them will take the bait as quickly because the franchise seems to be prefer it may truly obtain one thing. If the Leafs had received 5 of those video games, if the powerplay acquired its collective head out of its communal ass, if Nick Ritchie had proven the facility ahead abilities that acquired him drafted prime ten as a substitute of reacting to the play the way in which my cat reacts to the blender in our kitchen*, any of that might have at the very least given us one thing to carry onto.
*(My cat will get confused and assaults no matter object is closest to him till the blender turns off.)
As a substitute we’ve gotten this mess. About the one vibrant spots have been William Nylander and Jason Spezza—each of whom we knew had been good and neither of whom can proper this ship on his personal—and a few competent work from Ondřej Kaše, whom I additionally concern is about to get injured each minute he’s on the ice. This isn’t the stuff that desires are product of. It’s not even the stuff that bubble groups are product of.
As for the coach…
Sheldon Keefe: “I feel we depart right here a greater crew… I feel there’s plenty of good issues that our crew did right here but additionally within the classes that we’ll take away that’ll make us a greater crew.”
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 26, 2021
There’s solely a lot Sheldon Keefe can say at this level, though I’m undecided this was the very best of the restricted choices obtainable to him. However there’s nothing fairly as miserable as the concept that this crew remains to be making an attempt to be taught classes lengthy after they need to have earned their levels. You possibly can solely wait so lengthy earlier than you doubt it’s going to occur. I’d say Keefe’s job is in jeopardy, however the Leafs gave him an extension earlier than the season, as a result of I assume in any other case the gamers won’t have listened to him primarily based on his contract standing. Since that difficulty is now resolved one has to imagine they’re listening and he’s telling them to piss away two intervals out of each three they play.
All proper, I’m being unfair. However that brings us again to the identical outdated query. What about this crew makes you suppose it’s going to be higher? What’s going to be completely different? Not from the primary seven video games, however from the seven video games earlier than that, or the 5 towards Columbus, or the fourteen towards Boston? So no, I received’t actually be completely satisfied if the Leafs pull out a win towards Chicago and observe it up with one towards Detroit. I’ll be much less aggravated, and I’d relatively they stopped the bleeding than not, however the “they’re simply getting unfortunate” reply shouldn’t be a lot of a solution in any respect. This crew is aspiring to clear the best hurdle and turn into an actual contender. We’re consoling ourselves with the concept that as soon as the cube roll their means they’ll get their ft two inches off the bottom.
I’m not howling for a sacrificial lamb and I’m not panicking over chilly taking pictures. I’m simply sick of this crew aiming for the sky and touchdown within the filth. And till they provide me purpose to imagine in any other case, the “watch for regression” case sounds lots like reassurance that the Leafs aren’t unhealthy; they’re simply mediocre.
Plan the parade.