Maple Leafs’ Matthews & Tavares Call Out Team: No Response & No Gas

It certainly wasn’t a good game for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they faced the Ottawa Senators during the second game of the 2020-21 season. The Maple Leafs lost by a score of 5-3.

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It would be hard to say that anyone really suspected that the Senators would give the Maple Leafs the beating they did, but Ottawa did just that. And the Senators looked good doing it against a team that – as two of the team’s big stars said – left their foot off the gas and simply showed no response to what the Senators were doing on the ice.

Auston Matthews and John Tavares Call Out Their Team – and, Themselves Included

The two stars involved were Auston Matthews and John Tavares; and, after the game, they talked about their team’s loosey-goosey play against the Senators that led to their 5-3 beat down in Ottawa. The Maple Leafs had the lead two times during the game, but the Senators came roaring back to score four goals in a row to take over the match.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Where did the Maple Leafs go? As Matthews and Tavares said, the team really didn’t show up. Or, more to the point, they showed up and then seemed to leave. Whichever, they didn’t stay focused for long enough. They simply played a little too loose against the Senators and, unlike their comeback against the Montreal Canadiens during game one, they couldn’t come back.

That’s on Us, Matthews Stated

As Matthew said, “I think we just played too loose” against a “team that works hard” and are “not going to go away.” Matthews knew exactly who to blame for the loss. And he said it clearly to his entire team: “That’s on all of us.”

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Furthermore, Matthews knew exactly what to do to remedy the situation. We “gotta make sure that we put our foot on the gas and (show) no mercy.” Matthews also suggested he was looking forward to tomorrow night’s back-to-back game. He suggested, “Luckily we get another chance tomorrow.”

We Showed No Response, Tavares Admits

Tavares added to Matthews’ critique. He called out himself and his team for simply having a “really poor response after we took the lead.” Tavares hinted that the team might have become too confident. Although the Maple Leafs’ controlled much of the first part of the game and played in the Senators’ half of the ice at the beginning of the game, Tavares noted that, after their own big goal, they simply had a very poor response.

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

When the Senators came back, the Maple Leafs simply could not establish their game again. They got sloppy, and that led to the Senators getting too many good looks. By that time, Tavares suggested the Maple Leafs simply couldn’t dig themselves out of a three-goal deficit.  

It’s Too Soon to Panic, But Not Too Soon to Work Hard

Although it’s probably too soon to panic, the Maple Leafs have already shown in two games this season some poor tendencies. During both games, they fell behind. Once the team came back and once it was not able to come back. It would be nice to see a game where the team took the lead and held it.

It’s surprising that, given the firepower and the veteran leadership, that this team simply doesn’t push hard line after line right from the start. It isn’t as if they can’t do it; but, somehow, they simply don’t.

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We’ll see tomorrow night how the Maple Leafs respond to this – almost embarrassing – loss. The Senator’s team really didn’t quit. The Maple Leafs have to follow suit. That’s the lesson this Maple Leafs have to learn sooner or later. And, given the shortened season, sooner is way better than later.


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