Maple Leafs must use win in Chicago as a starting point, but no guarantee that they will

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So the Maple Leafs are dwelling and cooled out.


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They should be, proper? In any case, scratching and clawing and rallying to beat a winless hockey workforce certainly may be interpreted as an indication that solely sunny days are forward.

Let’s not get carried away.

The Leafs, who had a time off on Thursday, are dwelling all proper — they return to observe on Friday to arrange for a Saturday night time date with the Detroit Pink Wings, kicking off a five-game stand at Scotiabank Enviornment — however they shouldn’t be feeling too nice about themselves.

A win on Wednesday night time in opposition to a decimated Chicago Blackhawks membership that is still and not using a victory in its first seven video games, one which required the Leafs to surmount a two-goal deficit earlier than prevailing on a William Nylander aim in extra time, may need introduced extra life to the aircraft trip again to Toronto.


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It was only one recreation, nonetheless, and got here on the heels of three shoddy efforts, every of which resulted in a loss.

The Leafs, who’ve a 3-4-1 report, are certainly one of two issues.

They’re both an underachieving group which finally will proper the ship, or they’re a workforce that may proceed to attempt to discover its approach and observe the sample of truly fizzling out within the playoffs earlier than the post-season event really will get critical.

There is no such thing as a assure they gained’t be the latter, which has to carry some degree of frustration to president Brendan Shanahan and basic supervisor Kyle Dubas. Simply because every has mentioned up to now a number of months that there’s perception within the group doesn’t imply successful ultimately goes to occur. And when coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned after the loss in Carolina that the Leafs “obtained an actual sense of what a Stanley-Cup contending workforce appears and seems like,” within the Hurricanes, that needed to resonate.


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Isn’t that what the entrance workplace would have appreciated you to consider the Leafs are, with some low season tinkering right here and a few low season tinkering there, up to now few years?

Given the chatter that was emanating from the workforce in the course of the summer season within the weeks after the Leafs’ first-round collapse in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens, one would have figured Toronto was going to return out of the beginning blocks in 2021-22 like a proverbial home afire.

In any case, the loss in Sport 7 in opposition to Montreal, which got here after the Leafs had a 3-1 sequence lead, was presupposed to be one other playoff wound that was going to stiffen the resolve of the group. The core was being retained, in fact, as a result of who higher than to steer the Leafs to a correct degree of respect, particularly with a bunch of newcomers slotted in varied locations across the roster?


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As a substitute, the Leafs are challenged to drum up curiosity in constant play till nicely after the opening faceoff and have given up the primary aim in six video games. The most recent instance got here in Chicago, the place the Blackhawks had not held a lead in any of their video games till the primary interval in opposition to the Leafs, going up 2-0.

Apparently realizing the potential for embarrassment, a few Leafs obtained verbal within the dressing room in the course of the first intermission, imploring the group to be higher. Goalie Jack Campbell mentioned that obtained the workforce indignant and it served as a spark.

We surprise: Why did it take one thing like that to get the Leafs going, or why did it must occur in any respect?

Defenceman Jake Muzzin, as we reminded on this area a few days in the past, spoke of the anger that helped drive the workforce via the summer season and into camp. There was little proof of that anger within the first two weeks.


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Leafs followers needed to be completely happy to see the workforce’s marquee participant, Auston Matthews, present a uncommon emotional facet and yell down the bench at one level in the course of the recreation in opposition to the Blackhawks. The Leafs, irrespective of who it’s, may use extra of that heart-on-the-sleeve perspective.

To our earlier level that the Leafs could be an underachieving group which can get it proper — what does getting it proper appear to be? Making the playoffs solely to lose a hard-fought battle within the first spherical? Profitable a playoff sequence for the primary time since 2004 however dropping within the second? Certainly nobody would argue immediately {that a} Cup title subsequent spring appears potential, by no means thoughts anticipated.

With 74 video games to play, there’s greater than sufficient time for the Leafs to get it found out. There’s sufficient time to discover a approach to put extra of the scoring probabilities we maintain listening to about into the again of the opponent’s web.

The end in Chicago was a begin, in that it was a win. The Leafs, if they’re who they suppose they’re, will carry it over in opposition to Detroit and thru subsequent week.

We wouldn’t exhale fairly but. The Leafs have some approach to go earlier than dips and disappointment are labored out of their collective system.

For now, confidence within the group exterior the group shouldn’t be as concrete.



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