With four days between games, in theory, the Leafs should have been ready for one of their best efforts of the season on Thursday night, not one of the sloppiest.
Kids these days.
The best thing coach Randy Carlyle could say about the effort and the result in a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre was that it was a head scratcher. And to continue with that head scratching, here are a few things the team will ponder before Saturday’s game against the Devils in lovely Newark, N.J.
1. What to do without Joffrey Lupul? If indeed the dynamic winger is lost with what appears to be a head injury, the team will need scoring from the Phil Kessel-Joffrey Lupul-James van Riemsdyk unit more than ever. Sure JVR ended a 10-game goalless drought on Thursday, but more will be needed now.
2. Playoff time starts now. Several players alluded to it post-game, that almost every team the Leafs face down the stretch will be in full desperation mode now as the playoff race tightens up. The next three games, for example – the Devils followed by a home-and-home with the Rangers – are all against teams below them in the standings but fighting for a playoff spot. Heading into Friday’s action, the Leafs slip back into sixth (though are tied in points with fifth-place Ottawa.).
3. It’s time to play responsible defence. As we wrote last night, the Leafs were deplorable in their own end, with two bad giveaways leading directly to Flyers second-period goals that gave the visitors control of the game. On D, Mike Kostka may have had his worst game in Blue and White leading many to speculate when (and even “if”) he will return to the lineup.