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There are some who argue that life is still not bad for the Toronto Maple Leafs despite their mounting setbacks.

Just ask Nazem Kadri. “No, no. We’re more than fine. Just a few bad periods,” he said on Monday night after the Leafs’ latest embarrassment at home, a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.

Well, let’s check some of the stats. Before Tuesday’s games, the Leafs had an 8-4 record and 16 points, the best in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and tied with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche for the best in the league. They scored 42 goals, also best in the NHL before Tuesday’s games.

So maybe, despite the loss of Auston Matthews for at least a month to a shoulder injury and a dismal 3-4 record at home, Kadri is right. And maybe Matthews’s second serious shoulder injury in nine months, this time to his right one, is not a sign that chronic shoulder problems will derail his rise to become one of the best two or three forwards in hockey.

Then again, just maybe Kadri and several other Leafs had better pick up their game or trouble lies ahead.

There is a lot of blame to go around for the loss to the Flames, who are not exactly the 1977 Montreal Canadiens. There is also a lot of work to do to prepare the Leafs for a tough section of their schedule. After a day off on Wednesday, they’re playing the Dallas Stars at home and have games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in the next 11 days.

The only Maple Leaf to escape blame for Monday’s loss is goaltender Frederik Andersen. In the first game since the Leafs lost Matthews in last Saturday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets, he was at the top of his form. Andersen allowed only two goals to the Flames (the third was an empty-netter) and can now say he has shaken the October woes that dogged him since he joined the Leafs two years ago.

There was little offence from the bottom six forwards the other night and the defence continually turned the puck over because the Flames had no opposition to their forechecking. The biggest problem, however, was the players who were supposed to give the Leafs the depth they needed to withstand the Matthews injury did not do their jobs.

Neither of the Leafs’ top-two lines, with Kadri and John Tavares at centre, respectively, came close to filling the gap against the Flames. Kadri may have sloughed it off (“We didn’t deserve to win that game, but just call that a wash, move on and worry about the next one”). Tavares, though, is well aware he and linemates Kasperi Kapanen and Zach Hyman have to improve.

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock gave both Kadri and Tavares the most minutes they have played all season (21 minutes 14 seconds and 21:26, respectively) to make up for Matthews’s absence. And even though Kadri scored for the third game in a row, neither line was much of a scoring threat.

“We’re learning some good lessons now with how much better we’ve got to be consistently night to night and how well teams are ready to play us,” Tavares said. “They’re coming in trying to do the same things we’re trying to do and get the results that they need. We know we can be a lot better, starting with myself.”

Kadri and linemates Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner drew the most difficult matchup in facing Flames centre Sean Monahan and wingers Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. But they did not put up much of a fight at either end of the ice in five-on-five, as Monahan and Lindholm both scored to give the Flames all the cushion they needed.

In the meantime, while the Leafs managed a sort-of-respectable 25 shots, 15 of them were in the first 54 minutes of the game. The last 10 came in a too-late comeback following Kadri’s power-play goal.

The funny thing is, the Leafs have frustrated better teams than the Flames this season. They just haven’t been able to do it at home. Babcock has said he thinks the Leafs try to get too fancy at home, a common failing among NHL teams. The players aren’t sure why they are a perfect 5-0 on the road and a mediocre 3-4 at home.

“We want to start playing better at home,” Hyman said. “It’s important to do that. We’ve got to be better at home.”

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