The Maple Leafs talk has turned to adversity, and it’s time for them to act on their words

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Simply two weeks in the past — it appears for much longer than that — Jake Muzzin talked about anger.


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Taking questions from the media on the morning of the membership’s 2021-22 regular-season opener, the veteran Maple Leafs defenceman famous that gamers had been “pissed off” after the Leafs fell aside within the playoffs in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens final spring and there was a “little anger” within the group because it returned for coaching camp.

“We’re going to wish that all through the entire season,” Muzzin mentioned on Oct. 13.

Because the stumbling Leafs blow into the Windy Metropolis for date with the hapless Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday evening, we marvel: The place has that anger gone?

The Leafs haven’t met the lofty commonplace they maintain themselves to, by no means thoughts what’s anticipated of them in Leafs Nation, skittering to a report of 2-4-1.

A membership that went to lengths to persuade itself throughout the low season that it’s a legit Stanley Cup contender and would be taught from previous failures has carried out nothing of the type.
Out of the blue, the Leafs are a bunch that, within the phrases of Sheldon Keefe, may be taught a factor or two from the Carolina Hurricanes, alleged by the pinnacle coach to be a Cup contender after they bottled up the Leafs 4-1 on Monday evening.


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Positive, it’s early. However do you actually suppose the Leafs figured they might be on this spot barely 14 days into the season?

If the Leafs beat the Blackhawks on Wednesday, don’t trouble making an attempt to measure whether or not Toronto has taken a step ahead. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and star winger Patrick Kane had been amongst a handful of Chicago gamers on the COVID protocol record on Tuesday and, with no victory in six video games to start out, the Unique Six franchise has introduced embarrassment with its play (which is nothing compared to the small print within the impartial investigation, made public on Tuesday, right into a sexual assault allegation involving the workforce in 2010).

If the Leafs lose? A reminder that they don’t play once more till Saturday in Toronto in opposition to the Detroit Pink Wings, a void by which there can be time for adjustments to be made.


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The Leafs are a workforce that claims rather a lot however typically doesn’t take the following steps to rectify its collective lot in life. It’s a company that hits reset on every little thing however the core when the annual post-season failures happen after which can’t get previous one more insurmountable hurdle.

The excitement phrase following observe in Chicago on Tuesday might need sounded acquainted.

“Everyone comes into the yr contemporary with enthusiasm and desirous to be world-beaters to start and now we face adversity,” veteran centre Jason Spezza mentioned.

“The true check of a bunch is the way you react to such a adversity.”

So there’s a recognition, no less than, that speak gained’t clear up the issue.

“It’s factor to undergo adversity for those who can come out on the opposite facet of it and be taught from it and make your workforce higher due to it,” ahead Alex Kerfoot mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s simple to say that and we’ve truly obtained to go on the market and try this. It’s not factor if we let it spiral and we begin dropping a bunch of video games.”


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For Keefe, the Leafs’ work ethic isn’t essentially a problem.

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“You may’t survive within the league for those who don’t work arduous,” Keefe mentioned. “Everyone is working arduous. However there’s one other stage to get to and I feel we’ve but to get there. That’s the fact.

“The nice groups are those which are doing it most constantly. They usually’re conserving that focus on a regular basis. It doesn’t come and go, and that’s the place we’re at.”

Keefe has mentioned the truth that he likes what the Leafs do for stretches in video games, that they get their scoring possibilities. Puck administration, although, particularly within the defensive zone, hasn’t been as much as par, and turnovers have gotten extra frequent.

“We’ve got plenty of nice substances and good gamers and we’ve performed some good hockey, however some good hockey doesn’t minimize it,” Keefe mentioned. “We’ve obtained to place all of it collectively.”

The celebrities ought to be essentially the most accountable. Mitch Marner has one help in seven video games, Auston Matthews has one aim in 4 video games and captain John Tavares has three factors in seven video games.

For Spezza, it needs to be a bunch strategy.

“An enormous factor for our guys is realizing that we get out of this as a workforce,” Spezza mentioned. “We’re not on the lookout for one or two guys to climb us out of this. It’s actually a workforce sport, hockey.”
A wholesome dose of anger simply may assist the collective trigger.



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