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Knee Jerk Reaction: The Leafs find a new embarassing way to lose

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
3 months ago
Imagine yourself in an old Western film. Outside of the saloon, in a deep staredown with your most heated rival. You pull the gun from the holster…point it at your feet and shoot yourself six times. That’s essentially what the Leafs did tonight. 
To the surprise of nobody, the culprits were the same again. John Klingberg was a whopping minus-4 and was on the ice as a member of two different pairings tonight. Sheldon Keefe put the fourth line out against Ottawa’s first line on a number of different occasions. And as the Leafs have done so many times in the past, they threw away the game in a matter of minutes. 
They opened the scoring and fell behind twice before Nick Robertson completed a filthy passing play from Max Domi to tie the game at 3-3 around eight minutes into the third period. The Leafs enjoyed that newfound momentum for about three minutes…and five minutes later it was 6-3. 
The worst part of all of this is that the defensive breakdowns and lacklustre performance between the pipes have taken the attention away from a couple of genuine positives that can be taken for progress. I had this all typed up, ready to talk about Tyler Bertuzzi having his best game of the season and finally scoring a goal at 5-on-5, and Joseph Woll was doing a decent job of keeping them in it until the 11-minute mark of the third. Instead, I’m back writing what’s essentially a carbon copy of the same piece I’ve written at least once or twice already. 
Say what you want about Kyle Dubas, and not to bring him up out of nowhere like a disgruntled ex, but for all the positives and negatives there were to his style as a general manager, he never doubled down on his mistakes. If Brad Treliving is serious about icing a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup this year, then he’ll follow that same path and won’t double down on his either. Klingberg’s play would be disastrous for a defenceman that makes league minimum, let alone $4.1 million. And with still only five assists on the year, there’s nothing to mask the fact that he’s a defensive liability. They currently only have three lines that they can trust, and at this point, barely even two defensive pairings. Of course, the injuries don’t help with that, but it’s something the Leafs navigated through last season. If I’m being honest, I don’t feel anywhere near as confident that they’ve got that same ability this time.
The Senators came out tonight at the lowest point of their season. Half of their team is hurt, their third-line centre is suspended for half of the season, they’re forfeiting draft picks and fighting with their own fans. And tonight, they walked into Scotiabank Arena and put the Leafs in their pocket at the snap of a finger. Like taking candy from a baby. 
It’s getting tiring writing the exact same thing over and over. Let’s see if they learned any “lessons” tonight.

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