The Toronto Maple Leafs’ top players, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander, are facing heavy criticism for their performances thus far in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs are down 3-0 in the series against the Florida Panthers, and their top stars have failed to make a significant impact on the scoreboard.
In contrast, the Leafs’ depth scoring has been noticeable, with goals coming from Erik Gustafsson, Sam Lafferty, Matthew Knies, Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot, and Ryan O’Reilly. However, the team’s star players have not produced as expected: Matthews has 2 assists, Marner has 1 assist, Nylander has 1 assist, and Tavares has no points.
Fans and analysts have been particularly critical of these players, considering they take up nearly half of the team’s salary cap space. If the Maple Leafs hope to win even one game in this series, their star players must step up their game and start contributing offensively.
Credit should also be given to the Panthers, who have successfully shut down Toronto’s top players for three consecutive games. The Leafs face a do-or-die situation in Game 4, which will take place in Florida. A loss in Game 4 would mean elimination from the playoffs and a sweep by the Panthers, who only qualified for the postseason due to a regular-season loss by the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Maple Leafs’ stars need to find their form and make an impact in Game 4 if they hope to turn the series around and avoid an extremely embarrassing playoff exit.