Leafs captain's comments about the team's mood on Friday highlights one major flaw for the team

Mike Armenti
April 28, 2023  (7:53 PM)

The Leafs had the series in the palm of their hand, winning both games in Tampa, returning home with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to close out the series in Game 5 at home in Toronto. Unfortunately for those who shelled out hundreds and even thousands of dollars for tickets at Scotiabank Arena for Game 5, the Leafs did not turn out a full 60-minute effort, often failing to break the puck out efficiently, giving up on the forecheck at times and just not playing solid team defense or managing the puck very well.

While you might expect to hear that the Leafs were beating themselves up following the loss in what was a very winnable game, Leafs captain John Tavares revealed on Friday that the team was actually in pretty good spirits before departing for Tampa for tomorrow night's Game 6.
"Guys are upbeat. Short memory, turn the page and get physically and mentally ready to get back at it." - Tavares on a missed opportunity in Game 5 and getting ready for Game 6

One has to ask though.. did JT's comments expose a fundamental flaw for the Leafs? Granted, there's no changing the past. They lost Game 5 and now they have to head back to Tampa with the Lightning having all of the momentum. No amount of self reflection or focusing on the negative will turn last night's loss into a win, but to hear that everyone was chipper and upbeat after a loss like that may actually point to that lack of a killer instinct that the Leafs have been accused of having in the past.
Guys don't need to be silent and hanging their heads. They don't need to be in a sour mood or wearing a permanent scowl. But for a team with such a long history of coming up short, they should definitely have a chip on their shoulders. The fact that we're hearing the opposite today doesn't exactly breathe much confidence into the fanbase. Of course, if the Leafs win Game 6 tomorrow night, all of this becomes nothing more than an afterthought.
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