Maple Leafs: “Leafs Nation” Needs to Relax

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 2-2-1 on this young season and “Leafs Nation” is busy tossing jerseys on the ice after their latest loss to the San Jose Sharks. The early start time apparently brought out the haters and a couple of over-reactive fans. While it certainly wasn’t the team’s finest efforts against an undefeated Sharks’ team who now lead the league in goals against, a 2-2-1 start doesn’t warrant this level of disrespect. Leafs Nation, you need to relax.

The game on Friday against the Sharks was with Toronto’s third-string goalie in net, and yes it showed. Michael Hutchinson did not have his finest efforts, sure, but he can’t shoulder all the blame. Nobody should — it’s a team game and you win and lose as a team. Regardless, he needed to be better for the Maple Leafs to win and he’d be the first to tell you that.

We could shift to the team’s top line of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Nick Ritchie. Matthews and Marner can’t appear to get on the same page early on this season, and Ritchie didn’t look good with them and much better when he was playing with Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza down the lineup.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe called them all out after the game and rightfully so, but still, you didn’t see the coach saying “we’re out of it” after the game. That the season was over and he was done. You don’t see Keefe throwing pens, gum, or clip boards behind the bench, and he wants to win more for this organization than any fan who paid too much for their ticket.

Throwing Your Jersey a Fire-able Offense for Any Maple Leafs Fan

If you are the fan who tossed your jersey on the ice, I hope you find a better way to donate the rest of your Maple Leafs memorabilia. Passion is one thing but this doesn’t fall under passion for me. Maybe it was the overpriced beers? Who knows, but seeing this is obviously something I can’t justify:

This was the fifth game of the 82-game season and the Maple Leafs have yet to roster their best possible team. There’s been injuries to Ilya Mikheyev, Matthews and Petr Mrazek, and while it’s always next man up, to come out 2-2-1 maybe isn’t so bad after all. I have a feeling the fan who threw their jersey doesn’t realize the Sharks are one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season and there’s going to be a lot of playoff teams who lose to this pesky team from California.

Related: Maple Leafs Jack Campbell Becoming a Star in Toronto

Leafs Nation is full of passion and that’s what make them great, but I feel like it gets the best of them sometimes. The narrative to pile on Marner throughout the offseason was a bit much and now the focus seems to turn to Ritchie after his slow start in the team’s first two weeks. Read that again… two weeks, not two months. A bad stretch doesn’t mean a bad season.

Maple Leafs Are Going to Turn the Corner

Marner, Matthews, Ritchie, Morgan Rielly, and Rasmus Sandin have a combined zero goals on the season and these are some of the names that are going to make up most of the team’s offense. Right now it seems like the team is trying too hard to feed Matthews the puck, and Marner is picking-and-choosing the wrong time to pass or shoot. Ritchie isn’t getting involved enough and Rielly and Sandin need to jump into the rush more and support the forwards. All things that can easily be adjusted, fixed, and or changed. Doesn’t matter how you draw it up, the Maple Leafs are better than their record indicates and whoever lost their jersey is going to be looking for it come the spring when the postseason begins.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell had the night off Friday against San Jose (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs are ranked fifth in the league in shot attempts and seventh in shots against. Very respectable positions. Toronto is leading the league in faceoff percentage and Jack Campbell is the league’s leading netminder in both goals-against average and save percentage for any goalie who’s played more than three games. This is a very good team — perhaps their best roster on paper they’ve had in almost a decade. Deep breaths, Leafs Nation. It’s going to be okay.

Seeing someone toss their jersey after the fifth game of the season was cringe worthy. While accountability is one thing, someone needs to lay out all the variables for whoever decided to toss their tarp. To each their own, sure, but to freak out after the Leafs lost to a undefeated team, with their third-string goalie in net, and only the second game of the season for the team’s best player is a new level of passion — the same type of passion that makes Leafs Nation great, that’s the crazy part.

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