Maple Leafs treat fans to lousy effort and a loss on Halloween

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Some scary stuff went down at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night. 

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It was Halloween, all right, and the Maple Leafs showed up for work dressed up as a bunch of hockey players. 

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The costumes might have looked familiar, but the men wearing them certainly didn’t.

In their first game at home following a five-game trip, the Leafs treated their fans to few tricks, coming up flat and small in a 4-1 loss against the Los Angeles Kings. 

William Nylander’s quest to become the first Leafs player to record a point in nine consecutive games to start a season dried up. Six shots on goal for Nylander weren’t enough to make a mark on the gamesheet.

Rightfully so, the Leafs were booed off the ice at the end of the second period. There likely would have been more boos at the end of the game, but most people had departed. 

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Not that Toronto crowds are boisterous at the best of times, but there was no consistent opportunity for this one, announced at 18,531, to get excited. The Leafs were flat and so were those who paid hundreds of dollars to watch them. It’s the quietest we’ve, uh, heard the gathering at Scotiabank Arena in quite some time, and that’s saying something.

Next up for the Leafs is a date in Boston with the Bruins on Thursday. An effort that’s anything like what Toronto put forth on Tuesday, and another loss surely will be the result.

Some takeaways from Tuesday night:

LINE ’EM UP

Coach Sheldon Keefe, who wished aloud in the morning that the Leafs would manage the game like they were still on the road (that didn’t happen), continued to play around with the lines as his players couldn’t gain traction.

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Sooner or later, Keefe is going to have to give Matthew Knies a good look alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. 

Calle Jarnkrok and Tyler Bertuzzi have provided the wrong answers on the left side with Nos. 34 and 16, with neither proving to be a good fit. Knies hasn’t had that chance, and considering there has not been much of a mesh on a line with David Kampf and Max Domi, the time could be right to get Knies on the top unit. 

Let’s be honest here — neither Bertuzzi nor Domi, who were supposed to provide snarl to go along with some offence, have brought fans out of their seats for any reason. We’re nearly a month into the regular season, and neither looks comfortable. 

Keefe switched Nylander and Jarnkrok in the second period, putting Nylander with Matthews and Marner, and dropping Jarnkrok to play with John Tavares and Bertuzzi. There wasn’t what you would call an explosion of offensive sparks as a result. 

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D FOR DEFENCE

Defensive troubles that the Leafs had been working on to get out of their system rose from the dead not long after the opening faceoff. 

Toronto couldn’t get untracked in front of Woll and it wasn’t long before Andreas Englund, with his first NHL goal, opened the scoring at 6:38 of the first. Englund’s shot went off the stick of Mark Giordano, whose feeble attempt to deter the shot failed, and past Woll.

Former Leaf Trevor Moore turned Timothy Liljegren around shortly before making a smart backhand pass to set up Phillip Danault at 11:40 in the first. 

The Kings’ lead grew to 3-0 at 9:46 of the second when Arthur Kaliyev, with Bertuzzi serving a tripping minor, went far side on Woll. 

Adrian Kempe, left alone in front of Woll, tapped the puck into the net for the Kings’ fourth goal late in the third period.

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TOO LITTLE …

The Leafs didn’t pepper Kings goalie Cam Talbot with an array of high-danger chances at any point.

Toronto was able to get on the board at 8:25 of the third when Tavares scored on a screen during a power play, cutting the visitors’ lead to two goals.

Prior to that, the biggest cheers were for a Reaves hit on Drew Doughty and for a fan’s struggle to jam himself into a banana suit during a stoppage in play. Riveting stuff. 

On the whole, the Leafs are a much better offensive team than what they demonstrated on Tuesday. The sturdier Kings, meanwhile, improved to 4-0 on the road as they kicked off a four-game trip.

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