The growing desperation of Leaf Nation

The defence is terrible. Secondary scoring is non-existent. The coach has run out of answers. Leaf Nation is booing. It must be springtime in Toronto. Let’s listen in on the Toronto Maple Leaf players and coaches as they describe their sixeight-game losing streak.

With their latest loss, a 5-3 defeat to the St. Louis Blues a 4-2 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto’s season is unraveling quickly is like an 18-wheeler going off a cliff, to paraphrase former GM Brian Burke. And unless they can turn it around quickly over their next few games, this team isn’t going to make the playoffs.

Here, we take a look back at each game of this dismal losing streak and listen to how the players and coaches describe each loss. You can almost feel the frustration and panic building as the losses mount.

March 16
Result: 4-2 loss to Washington Capitals
What went wrong? Poor start means Leafs lose to highly flawed Caps team.

  • “Obviously we were pretty flat the first period. It looked like we were still in our afternoon nap. Playing an afternoon game just took us a good part of the game to get warmed up and get awake.” – Coach Randy Carlyle
  • “They got a good power play. We know that. They kind of picked us apart.” – Forward Troy Bodi
  • “We weren’t good enough in the first 10 minutes. You can’t spot a team three goals. We just weren’t sharp, you know? Myself included. And it cost us.” – Goaltender James Reimer

March 18
3-2 loss to Detroit Red Wings
What went wrong? Despite missing 10 players to injuries, Red Wings somehow manage to defeat perfectly healthy Toronto side.

  • “I thought we were going to come back at the end, but we made a mistake,” – Defenceman Jake Gardiner 

March 19
Result: 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning
What went wrong? Leaf plan defensive scheme to stifle sniper Steven Stamkos. Stamkos nets hat trick.

  • “The first goal’s kind of a fluke. What do you do? It’s a seeing-eye shot, there’s a screen, it hits a post and goes in. So you can’t get too unraveled by that.” – Carlyle
  • “I just want to come out and play well and kind of be a difference-maker, and unfortunately it wasn’t the case. I thought I made some good saves, but it definitely wasn’t the performance I was looking for.” – Reimer

March 22
Result: 4-3 loss to Montreal Canadiens
What went wrong? A must-win game (at home!) against long-time rival. Long-time rival prevails.

  • “Really, it was kind of one bad bounce that decided the game. I think we can hold our heads high on this one and go into tomorrow.” – Reimer
  • “It’s this group that’s going to get us out of this bind. We’ve been close, but close isn’t good enough right now. We know that we’re going to get out of it, we’ve just got to find a way.” – Defenceman Dion Phaneuf

March 23
3-2 loss to New Jersey Devils
What went wrong? Everything

  • “We have to find a way to stop the bleeding here and do everything in our power to regroup with this hockey club and get them playing to a higher level.” – Carlyle
  • “When we do play for stretches, we look like a team that could play with anybody, and then we are inept in some areas where the puck doesn’t bounce our way, or hits a post. All the good fortune we had earlier seems piled against us.” – Carlyle

March 25
5-3 loss to St. Louis Blues
What went wrong? Defence atrocious as Leafs outplayed for much of game.

  • “It seems every time we get down we start to ramp it up. But it’s too little, too late at the end.” – Forward James van Riemsdyk
  • “We didn’t pick up the puck and skate with it at all. That’s showing signs of being nervous, tense, confidence, not wanting to make a mistake.” – Carlyle
  • “We came out tentative and it could be that fear of it slipping away a little bit, but realistically we’re still right there with these other teams There’s reason for concern, but it’s not completely time to panic. We’re still right there.” – Forward Joffrey Lupul
  • “We have a lot of confidence in our abilities and a belief in ourselves and believe in the guys in the room. This thing is obviously far from over.” – van Riemsdyk
  • “We have lot of games left we have to come together as a team and battle.” – Forward Tyler Bozak

March 28

Result: 4-2 loss to Philadelphia Flyers
What went wrong? Game follows the well-known script of this losing streak: fall behind early, poor defensive zone coverage, half-hearted comeback falls short.

  •  “There’s no easy ones in the NHL and this one is real tough because of the situation we continue to put ourselves in.” – Carlyle

March 29

Result: 4-2 loss to Detroit Red Wings
What went wrong? Leafs again come up short against banged up team. Fans boo their heroes off the ice.

  • “I can’t describe it right now. This was as close to a do-or-die as you can get. But obviously we’re not going to throw out hope until it’s mathematically set in stone. But we pretty much had to have this game.” – Lupul
  • “This loss is the most disappointing out of the eight. There’s no hiding that. This is the toughest loss for sure.” – Phaneuf
  •  “All we can control right now is winning the rest of our games, and we’re going to have to have every one, probably.” – Lupul
  • “It’s not like we’re playing bad hockey, it’s just one of those things where every mistake that we do make ends up [in our net].” – Defenceman Cody Franson 
  • “It just isn’t meant to be for us right now, and this is the tough ones.” – Carlyle
  • “Obviously it’s hard to snap the long losing streak like that, but we’ve got to find a way. If not, then we’ll be home very soon.” – Goaltender Jonathan Bernier