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Rick Zamperin: How can we trust the Maple Leafs when they can’t trust themselves?

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen stops a shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen stops a shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Los Angeles. AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez

A recent comment to reporters from Toronto Maple Leafs superstar sniper Auston Matthews should tell you everything you need to know about the hockey team.

“I think we’re kind of, you know, one foot in the door, one foot out as far as the way we want to play. And I think we just all need to be 100 per cent in,” said Matthews, after Toronto’s recent three-game road trip to California.

The message is clear, how can fans of the Maple Leafs put trust in a team that can’t even trust themselves?

Matthews said it as plain as day, they are “one foot in the door, one foot out as far as the way we want to play.

READ MORE: Ducks deal Maple Leafs 3rd straight loss, 2-1

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Two weeks ago, Toronto recorded impressive wins against Tampa Bay, Florida and Vancouver, providing fans with more than a glimmer of hope that the team can play effectively at both ends of the rink and grind out victories.

But the Leafs followed that up with three straight losses in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim last week.

The Maple Leafs earned just one out of a possible six points against three of the five worst teams in the National Hockey League, managed to score only three goals in California, and failed to score in 14 consecutive power-play opportunities.

Toronto looks like a Stanley Cup contender one period, and an NHL bottom feeder the next. One game, the Leafs are world-beaters, the next, not so much.

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Entering this week, Toronto has 13 games left on their schedule (seven of them are against playoff teams) and is three points ahead of the Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division. Florida has a game in hand and will face off against six playoff teams over their final 14 games.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe will soon have defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin back from the injured list which should — I say, should — help balance the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature of the blue and white.

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Can the Maple Leafs turn the tide in their favour when they match up against Tampa Bay, Nashville and Boston this week, or will they provide us with yet another roller coaster ride?

The question that remains unanswered is can the Maple Leafs be trusted to take their game to a playoff-calibre level on a consistent basis?

The only way the Leafs will get there is if they jump in with both feet.

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