When a team has won five games in a row, things are clicking, and it looks like everything is going the way it is supposed to. Then the Maple Leafs get drilled 5-1 at home against Los Angeles to end that winning streak and it’s like a record scratch, definitely a change in tune. Phillip Danault and Jonathan Quick had the biggest impact for the Kings.
“It’s not the same level of urgency, from the start,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe. “Playing a team like L.A., that is so strong defensively, so good at even strength, you spot them a lead and it’s tough sledding the rest of the way.”
Keefe expressed frustration with his team. “That’s what we’re trying to get out of,” said Keefe. “This team that plays great one night, has lots of urgency, and plays a way that is a recipe to win consistently, and then comes out the very next game and isn’t the same group, it isn’t the same level of urgency against a different opponent. Until we get that sorted out, we are going to continue to ride this wave. That’s not good enough.”
Keefe did not like how Toronto started this game, an issue that has plagued the Maple Leafs at times during this season. “What I’m perplexed about is why we can’t come out and assert ourselves and have urgency and have pace,” Keefe continued. “You know, just let people fly through the neutral zone and get to our net, it’s not good enough. Opposition doesn’t give us that. We don’t get free passes to fly through the neutral zone to go in alone on the goaltender. We don’t get those looks to start games.”
The frustration is understandable, not just winning five straight but the last two were against Boston and Tampa Bay, two quality teams. The Maple Leafs had every right to expect a positive result but did not give themselves much of a chance.
A consistent theme from the Maple Leafs was that the Kings play a sound defensive structure and once Toronto fell behind, they just could not create enough offence.
“In the first period, they won a lot of puck battles, won a lot of races,” said Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. “Right off the hop, we weren’t ready to go.”
That was not a feel-good effort to end the homestand.
To the takeaways…