Maple Leafs season has been a turbulent one but has it been successful?
The Toronto Maple Leafs went into the 2019-2020 season with high expectations.
With all the key players signed to big contracts and most of the roster returning, the team and its fans have only cup contention on their minds.
With 33 games remaining on the season Toronto sits in 4th place in the Atlantic holding a 25-17 record so far.
Toronto has spent 94 Million on its team and with the talent that is up and down the roster it’s easy to sum up… the Leafs are under achieving this season.
As it is with most young teams, Toronto has struggled to remain consistent.
There has been two separate occasions this season where the Leafs have lost 6 games in a row.
The young squad has been able to take down top opponents like the Avalanche, Blues, and Canucks but have struggled to do it on a consistent basis.
It was Time for a Change…
On November 20th after the Leafs lost eight games in a row, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas decided it was time for a change.
Firing long time Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and promoting Toronto Marlies Head Coach Sheldon Keefe to the head job in Toronto.
Babcock seemed to have lost the locker room in Toronto and the young players needed a fresh voice.
The change seemed to work as the Leafs went on to win 16 of their next 27 games.
But for a team of Toronto’s caliber it’s safe to say that more is expected.
Injuries Were a Factor
Toronto’s blue line took some big hits so far this season as two of the Leafs top d-men were sidelined with injuries.
“In many ways he is the conscience of our team,” said Keefe when asked about Muzzin. “He makes everybody’s job a little bit easier.”
Morgan Rielly went down with an injury in early January in a loss to the Florida Panthers.
Rielly will be out 8 weeks with a fracture in his foot.
These two injuries have left the Leafs short on the d-line and will continue to do so until Reilly can return.
It will be tough for Toronto to get back in playoff contention without Rielly but it is not impossible.
News also surfaced over the all star break that Auston Matthews is dealing with a wrist injury.
Matthews is not expected to miss time but it is something to be monitored.
With the Leafs consistency this season, goaltending consistency has also become an issue.
Frederik Andersen is 22 and 9 on the season posting a .909 save percentage.
Not bad numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but Andersen has been pulled 3 times in the Leafs last five games this season.
Andersen is also giving up 2.89 goals per game this season, his highest since dawning the Leafs uniform.
As the all-star break ends and the Leafs d-line gets healthier the Leafs net-minder will certainly be under the radar as the trade deadline quickly approaches.
Post All-Star Break
The Leafs will be back in action tonight as they take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is 8pm EST.
Nashville currently sits last place in the Central Division.
This is the perfect opportunity for Toronto to start on the right foot and work on getting back into the playoff picture.
Pressure will only mount for Toronto as the season progress’s, a team of this caliber and pay roll should never miss the playoffs.
Look for Toronto to be big shoppers at the deadline if the season goes south quick.
Only time will tell what will happen for the Leafs and its young squad this season.