Maple Leafs and their fans are falling apart
The Maple Leafs lost two out of three on a Western Canada road trip and Toronto fans are not happy with the performances. To make things worse, trade deadline acquisition Ryan O'Reilly is out indefinitely with a broken finger, while John Tavares will miss Tuesday's game in New Jersey. The Leafs are locked in a playoff spot but some of their key players are playing below standard, notably defenceman Morgan Rielly. On the latest episode of Zone Time, Julian asks Omar and crew if the panic within the fanbase is really justified?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Omar?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Why are you and Leafs fans freaking out right now? It's completely unjustified.
OMAR: OK. Again--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It's completely unjustified. For context, people--
OMAR: I agree.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --they ran through Western Canada, lost two out of three, including losses to Vancouver and to Edmonton. They beat the Calgary Flames, but they lost to Vancouver, and they lost to Edmonton. And all of a sudden-- all of a sudden, we're hearing people say, hey, the season needs to start anew against the New Jersey Devils. Like, we need to, like, pick ourselves up. And you're like, what is this?
What are y'all doing? Y'all are in a playoff spot right now, you know what I'm saying? Y'all-- y'all have a points percentage of .667 at the time of this recording. That is 40 points up on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who you're [? gonna play in the first round. ?]
OMAR: Can you say that number one more time?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: 667. Nearly devil numbers, you know what I'm saying?
OMAR: 667. So 6, 67.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: 6-7.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, right, yeah. Oh, yeah. Right, yeah. Hmm, yeah. Mm-hmm.
OMAR: So this-- this is what I will say, OK? Because I have been seeing a lot of Leafs fans panic and say, like, oh, the season's lost, whatever. I am-- I am nowhere close to that. Again, my issues is just with I think the way that the lines have been run out doesn't really favor new players in a new system with trying to get a-- trying to get a rhythm.
So I'm, kind of, waiting and taking my time. What I do have issue with is that there are players that we need to be better, that have gotten a lot of runway to be better, who just haven't been. A lot of people get mad at other Leafs fans for pointing at him, but Morgan Rielly hasn't been good this season.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No.
OMAR: He has not been good whatsoever.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He has not been good this year.
OMAR: And-- yeah. And we need him to be good. My issue with the Saturday loss was that it was not a loss. It was a handout. The Leafs--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Sam, do you know your team give out handouts?
OMAR: The Leafs-- the Toronto Maple Leafs looked at the Vancouver Canucks and said, you know what, the game is 1-1, but here you go.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It's one game, man. Like, it's not the end of the world.
OMAR: You're right, but--
SAM CHANG: The Leafs were-- the Leafs outshot the Canucks, like, 14-3 in the first.
OMAR: Yes, Sam. Yeah. Mmm. It's like--
And then-- and then-- and then the thing--
SAM CHANG: Like, look, it's not-- it's not your fault. I think what Matt Murray would say was that those two shorthanded goals, much like Brock Boeser's various hat tricks against him, were-- I think the word he used was "lucky."
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Mmm.
OMAR: It's like-- so I am not-- I am not freaking out about the team. I'm not saying the season is lost. Like, I think that's crazy early, and again, it's a new team on the road, need to figure things out, 11 forwards, seven defensemen. There is mayhem everywhere. But there are things that are taking place individually that need to be fine-tuned but haven't yet.
And I think Saturday's game is an example of what happens when everyone isn't on the same page and mistakes happen and how those mistakes can be costly. Because the Leafs can be in that position, where they're on-- in a moment to take over a game on the power and that opportunity leads to a loss. That's an issue.
That can't continue, especially a team but has weapons. Vancouver is not a good team, but they have weapons.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Ouch.
OMAR: You're going to give up a-- you're going to give up a two-on-one with JT Miller and Elias Pettersson on the ice?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Those are good players.
OMAR: That's my point, Julian! That is my point!
SAM CHANG: Maybe you should have acquired JT Miller.
OMAR: Uh, no.
SAM CHANG: Then you wouldn't have had the shorthanded goal and shorthanded assist.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think so.
OMAR: No, no, no, no, no. So-- so that's-- so, like-- so Leafs fans who are freaking out, like, don't do that. Granted, there is some, like, bad-luck things that are happening. Ryan O'Reilly is now injured for whoever knows. Auston Matthews left the game after taking a puck to the knee. My soul left my body. He came back.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: [LAUGHS]
OMAR: He was OK.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Sorry.
OMAR: [LAUGHS] So-- so, like, I don't know. I'm not freaking out and saying the season is over, but there are some things that need to improve, and again, it's starting with Morgan Rielly. He needs to be better.