Maple Leafs hold players-only meeting during losing streak

Thomas Williams
Hockey writer

With four consecutive regulation losses, the Toronto Maple Leafs are owners of the worst streak in the entire National Hockey League.

This recent skid has caused some panic among the fanbase but management and players have tried to keep it cool under this pressure.

To get to the root of the problem, the team held a players-only meeting before they faced the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

"We talked about what we needed to talk about, I think, and it was just kind of an open discussion with the players," defenceman Jake Muzzin told reporters. "Get a clear kind of view on what we think needs to happen."

There might be a sizeable difference between what the players and fans think needs to happen, but they are both running out of patience.

"There’s no secrets. It’s time to get going," defenceman Tyson Barrie said. "It’s not time to panic, but we’ve got a good chunk of the season out of the way and we’re not where we want to be. So it’s time to bear down and man up."

The Leafs have a 9-9-4 record to show for through 22 games. That is surely enough time to consider this is the team’s true level.

But right now, captain John Tavares believes that the entire group has been in a daze and not themselves to start the season.

"I think we’re just trying to find solutions to get out of the funk we’ve been in," Tavares told reporters. "Just talking about the feel of the team and how we’re playing and how we can get better going forward."

$100 FREEROLL

In the last 10 games, the Leafs have earned six out of the 20 possible points and own a minus-10 goal differential.

"When you’re playing good you’re just kind of playing. You’re just feeling the game, your instincts are kicking in and things just kind of come naturally," said Tavares.

"Obviously we have to tighten up defensively and then I think for us just to continue to trust one another and then just breathe and play the game one shift at a time and just stay with it for a full 60."

The insecurity throughout the recent matches have become too much to handle for some players.

Forward Auston Matthews understands a slight cold streak every now and again, but the recent struggles have become more than just a blip on the radar.

"You’re always going to go through rough times or go through little skids, but this one’s been a bit longer and tougher than I think you’d like," said Matthews.

"But I think in the end, that adversity can obviously help you in the long run, so I think that’s the way we’re trying to look at it positively and putting our best foot forward here."

The Leafs start their five-game road trip on Tuesday against the Golden Knights and then head to Colorado to face the surging Avalanche.

A couple of difficult opponents during this tumultuous time, who could easily extend the team’s losing streak.

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