Knee Jerk Reaction: Leafs’ lead blowing trends continue

Photo credit:Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
5 months ago
If the Toronto Maple Leafs were trying to shed the narrative of not being able to hold a lead, tonight didn’t do them any favours.
The game had the pace of a high-octane showdown between the Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers to start, as expected. The Leafs played them hard and scored twice in the first 40 minutes to grab the first lead, but Edmonton showed up when it mattered and gave the Leafs their fourth straight loss, this one by a score of 4-2.
The Leafs and the inability to hold a lead have long been a mutual struggle, but it’s especially been on display as of late. This loss marked the fifth one in their last seven where they’ve had control of a two-goal lead and lost it, and their third straight giving up a late, back-breaking goal near the end of regulation. Maybe their overtime luck is starting to catch up to them, or maybe they’re just playing their worst slump of hockey of the year. Maybe both. 
They didn’t necessarily play a bad game, but the fact of the matter is at some point you have to pay attention to trends no matter how well the team plays. Playing well and holding their heads above the water hasn’t done them any favours lately, and they’ve continued to demonstrate severe struggles closing out games. 
You can look at coaching, you can look at roster construction, or you can look at the performance of the guys who are on the ice. No matter which way you cut it, these kinds of games are not going to last for much longer, and the Leafs are going to have to figure out some sort of solution fast. The Atlantic is much tighter than it’s been in recent years, which was expected, and they can’t afford to keep giving away points when they’ve got their opponent in a favourable spot. 
In some somewhat positive news, Pontus Holmberg has looked excellent on the top line and has quickly gone from a routine swap-in player for Nick Robertson’s off-nights to a pivotal part of the team night in and out. He assisted on both goals tonight, giving him seven points in his last nine games. He along with Martin Jones outside of that second goal were bright spots in an otherwise frustrating finish.
What’s your knee-jerk reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know below.

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