The Maple Leafs have fallen on hard times again. The Rangers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3 to hand them their second consecutive loss. Auston Matthews was the lone bright spot in this game for the Leafs.

Defensive Troubles Continue

What a difference a week can make. Wins over both Nashville and Dallas made it seem like maybe the problems on defense were getting better. Muzzin’s return seemed to bolster the line-up, but this effort tonight was horrendous. The amount of giveaway’s they had combined with how many times they left Hutchinson out to dry made it impossible to watch.

The part that bothers me the most about this game was the fact that the Leafs couldn’t hold the momentum. Tavares opens the scoring, minute later Rangers tie. Matthews scores to pull them within one, Rangers score thirty seconds later. Prior to these goals, the Leafs were controlling the game. The Rangers do have a pesky team but for much of the game the Leafs had control and were creating chances. They just kept sitting back after they scored.

Big Shoes To Fill

Despite making 30 saves, Hutchinson let the Leafs down. The benefit of having Andersen is that when momentum swings, he’s there to make the saves. Yes, there were moments that the defense let Hutchinson down but he did not look ready to play. In his past four starts he was great. He looked like his old self and his confidence was high.

However, it seems the pressure got to Hutchinson. There are moments where he’s on his game. Then a goal goes past him and he loses all momentum. It happened on Monday against Florida and again in New York, when they scored twice in six seconds.

Hutchinson’s time in Toronto seems to be numbered, as after the game Dubas completed a trade. Goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford will be joining the Maple Leafs as Trevor Moore and two third round picks are headed west to Los Angeles.

The Matthews Train Keeps on Roiling 

Matthews scored twice in New York to put his season total to 39. His career high is 40, which he recorded in his rookie season. Matthews sits only one goal behind Ovechkin who has 40 on the year. Ovechkin has been on a tear as of late scoring 17 goals in his last 15 games. During that same stretch, Matthews has scored 15 goals.  It’s been a break out season for Matthews and to be on pace with a legend is amazing. It’s probably still early to talk about a changing of the guard but there’s no doubt Matthews is the league’s next great scoring machine.

The Maple Leafs will return to action on Friday night as they host Anaheim.