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Leafs Begin Where They Left Off
The Toronto Maple Leafs began their new season exactly where they left off. Last season, despite a promising start and an almost guaranteed playoff spot, the team lost 14 of their final 20 games, thus losing their shot in the playoffs and fading into insignificance once again. In spite of auspicious changes occurring during the off-season, this season appears destined to follow suit.
The Leafs opened their hockey season with a particularly riveting game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre on October 8th. While the Leafs failed to beat the Habs, this loss is forgiven due to the sheer intensity of the game. Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak scored the three Leaf goals, and played formidably. Rielly was particularly exceptional, and his goal at 17:41 make it seem like the team was poised for victory. However, Rielly was no match for the combined forces of Habs players such as defenceman P.K. Subban, left winger Max Pacioretty, centre Tomas Plekanec, and goalie Carey Price. In the end, Plekanec scored with 43 seconds remaining in the game by bouncing a pass attempt off Leafs defenceman Stuart Percy in a nail-biting finish. The Habs and the Leafs have confronted each other in the home opener for six straight years, and this was the first time in four years in which the Habs won the first game of the season.
On October 11th, the Leafs welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins for a devastating and humiliating game. Unlike the season opener, the Leafs did not redeem themselves through intensity and valiant efforts. The Penguins were dominant during the first period, and succeeded in scoring three goals. During the second period, Joffrey Lupul transcended the mediocrity of the Leafs to score a single goal. Later, during the third period, Tyler Bozak claimed another point for the Leafs, but it was too late. The fate of the Leafs was sealed, and the team lost 2-5 to the Pens. Phil Kessel suffered from a nonchalant and sluggish performance, and was sent to the penalty box on three occasions. The patience of the Leafs fan base was noticeably wearing thin, and reached a culmination when a fan tossed a Leafs jersey on the ice.
As the fans begin to exhibit an escalating frustration, the Toronto Leafs need to turn things around while there’s still time. This week, you can catch the Leafs when they take on the New York Rangers, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Detroit Red Wings.