You can forgive fans in hockey’s biggest fishbowl for having high expectations to begin this season. My lord, look at their roster. Auston Matthews already has 16 goals and 31 points on the season. William Nylander and John Tavares both have ten. Mitch Marner, though injured recently, has also been a key cog in a machine that should’ve been successful.
But they weren’t.
They were restricted on the ice. The team didn’t gel. They were sitting outside of the playoff picture. Mike Babcock was a mind-game playing asshole (insert shocked gasp here). General Manager Kyle Dubas fired Babcock and promoted Sheldon Keefe to head coach. That move looked like it loosened the Leafs up fo a little while, winning their next three road games - and then they promptly lost three of their last four. They’re 13-13-4 right now and sit sixth in the Atlantic Division, well outside of the playoff picture.
No one wants to play for a dick of a coach, but sometimes the issues that a team is having run deeper. The Leafs’ goaltending quality has not matched that of its forwards. Frederik Andersen has a serviceable .918 SV% but a 2.56 GAA. He’s won a bulk of his games, however, with a 13-7-3 record. Former Jets backup Michael Hutchinson, however, has been atrocious. He’s 0-7-1 with a .876 GAA and a 4.55 GAA.
The Blues, thankfully, have two goaltenders playing at starter level. The Blues were shut out on Thursday night in a rare loss by Jordan Binnington, but he’s still had an excellent start to the season (2.30 GAA, .925 SV%). Jake Allen has also been ridiculous, posting a 2.35 GAA and a .926 SV%. Granted, Allen has started far fewer games than Binnington, but at this point in the season fans shouldn’t feel nervous if their starter isn’t starting. The same can’t be said for the Leafs.
The Leafs have some issues. Part of it’s the press and fan fixation on the hockey capital of the world, on a team that feels entitled to every other team’s best players (here’s Toronto media speculating on Alex Pietrangelo coming to the Leafs a year ago, and here it is from yesterday).
They’re still a team full of high powered players looking to fix their narrative. That’s dangerous. The Blues won in October, 3-2, and have beaten the Leafs seven games in a row.