You have to go a while back in the Leafs record books to find the last time the Maple Leafs allowed nine or more goals.
On Tuesday night, it happened to the Maple Leafs, a 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.
It happened, because of issues the Leafs have had this season. But on this night, they happened at the same time.
The Compete Level
It just wasn’t there until late in the third period. At that point the Leafs were down 8-0 before Mike Santorelli and Nazem Kadri scored the lone Toronto goals
“Management of the puck is critical. You play teams that are going to force you to play the game along the walls and we refuse to put the puck in and simplify what we needed to do in certain situations” said Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle. “We gave up too many quality scoring chances. If you chart where the goals were scored from, they were right in that critical area.”
The Slow Starts
There are only six games out of 19 this season where the Leafs have opened the scoring. They have won all six games, which account for two-thirds of their victories. Taylor Beck scored one of his two goals while parking himself in front of Jonathan Bernier and putting in a backhand shot between his legs.
“It’s hard to forget, it’s going to stick in your mind for a bit because it’s embarrassing,” said defenceman Roman Polak, who expected a better bounce back performance to their disappointing 6-2 loss to Buffalo on Saturday night.
Randy Carlyle counted 35 turnovers committed by his team through the first 40 minutes. As is common in any sport, if you win the turnover battle you usually win the game.
"We’re getting outworked, they outworked us,” said Phil Kessel. “We’re making more mistakes than they are. It’s embarrassing.”
Lack of Scoring
When the Leafs were on their most recent three-game win streak, they scored at least five goals per game. Much of that came from secondary scoring. Since that time, the Leafs have averaged 1.67 goals against Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Nashville. That in large part is a by-product of the inability to get to the net with an aggressive forecheck.
“I thought we were going to have a good effort coming into this one tonight. And we came out flat and didn’t execute,” said Cody Franson.
This was an area where the Leafs actually held an advantage over their opponents going into Tuesday. The Leafs have failed to score a power-play goal in their last three games, while they gave up a power-play goal to Nashville in the first period. Nashville holds the best goals for/goals against ratio in the league when it comes to 5-on-5 play. Tuesday they showed us why.
It was on December 26th, 1991 when the Leafs lost in Pittsburgh 12-1. It was the last time the team gave up nine or more goals in a single game. This one, happened at home.
“When you get beat like that in professional sport it’s embarrassing and to get beat like that in front of your home fans, it compounds the issue,” said captain Dion Phaneuf. “It’s something that we obviously went through and it’s unacceptable by our group to have a performance like that.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how this team regroups. They’ve shown an ability to bounce back after bad performances. This is the first time this season where they have had a couple of bad performances hit them back-to-back.
“We obviously didn’t prepare enough, we didn’t do enough, we got beat in every aspect of the game” Phaneuf added.
It should make for an interesting Wednesday practice.