"Hasn’t been good enough": Leafs' Giordano admits to playoff struggles

May 6 2023, 5:52 pm

It’s put-up or shut-up time for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When the Leafs made a trade with the Seattle Kraken for Mark Giordano back in March 2022, they expected him to be a veteran defenceman with the ability to play big minutes and make a strong impact on the team in its most crucial games.

He’s filled up part of that bargain, slotting in on the team’s third pairing and being, by all accounts, a well-respected leader within the team’s locker room since coming to the team.

But even the 39-year-old Giordano himself could recognize that things haven’t exactly gone well on the ice, with the Leafs now in a 0-2 hole against the Florida Panthers in their second-round playoff series.

Giordano’s first partner this postseason, Justin Holl, was pulled before Toronto’s Game 6 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the rumours are flying that he could be the next defender to spend some time in Toronto’s press box.

Giordano has played 17:05 ice time per game in the playoffs, being on the ice for four Toronto goals and eleven against through eight games against Florida and Tampa Bay in all situations. At 5v5, Giordano has an on-ice expected goals rate of 40.54%, a corsi-for rate of 44.89%, and just 39.37% of the scoring chances have been in Toronto’s favour.

Whatever metric you use, it’s clear he’s been a step behind what Toronto needs.

“For me, it hasn’t been good enough. No matter what you want to say about goals against and plus/minus is a bad stat… at the end of the day, that’s who wins the game, whoever scores more goals,” Giordano told reporters today. “You have to win games, and it’s more about finding a way to win no matter what. It doesn’t matter who out-chances who.”

At today’s practice, Giordano was paired alongside Timothy Liljegren, who he’s spent the last two games with.

Meanwhile, Erik Gustafsson, who has only played once these playoffs (in Game 6 against Tampa Bay), slotted in on the Leafs’ extra pairing but was on the team’s second power-play unit.

“Obviously, the Giordano and Holl pairing was one that didn’t play to the level where it established itself in the past both in the playoffs and the regular season. We changed the chemistry up there a little bit. We feel we had some good shifts and good results in Game 1. Those weren’t the same in Game 2,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters on Friday. “Again, with each individual player, you look at their game, and you look at a lot of things happening around them as well. With all of our players — and certainly, being down 2-0 in the series — we will look at everything and discuss everything.”

The Leafs and Panthers face off in Game 3 on Sunday night at 6:30 ET as they look to avoid falling three games behind in the series.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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