TORONTO - A word of warning to those Maple Leafs talking tall about catching any teams in front of them.
Better to watch your back and then check some video from the good old days that put your team on the cusp of playoffs. Not only does the party that everyone in Leafs Nation waited eight years for remain on hold, but the five teams immediately behind and in front of Toronto in the Eastern Conference all toasted wins on Thursday.
That included the Islanders’ 5-3 decision against the Leafs, a game Toronto led 2-0 before it mistakenly joined the season-high crowd of 19,676 in a premature celebration.
Coach Randy Carlyle called the game “eerily similar” to Monday’s fortunate win over New Jersey and Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Washington. The Leafs have been outshot 107-64 in that span, part of a nine-game pattern, a fact Carlyle can no longer sugar-coat by claiming his team has limited the opponent’s quality chances.
“We have to accept responsibility as a staff,” Carlyle began. “Obviously, the things we’re doing to prepare our group haven’t had an effect for 60 minutes. I told them (in a post-game meeting) that we’re a better team than we demonstrated.”