Maple Leafs fans at the Scotiabank Arena voiced their displeasure with defenceman Jake Gardiner on Monday night in home team's 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Gardiner, who's in the final year of five-year, $20,250,000 contract, was outmuscled by Carl Soderberg in a puck battle on the powerplay that ended up in the back of Freddie Andersen's net to make it 3-2 for the Avs at 14:29 of the second period. Gardiner was benched for the remaining 5:31 of the period.
In the final frame. a rain of boos were directed at the longest-serving Leaf whenever he touched the puck, something that hasn't happened since the days of Dion Phaneuf and Bryan McCabe.
Multiple members of the Leafs came to Gardiner's defence by hammering home that he's one of the most popular players on the team.
The 28-year-old finished with the second-least amount of ice time (18:07) on the Leafs' d-core just ahead of Igor Ozhiganov and had the lowest possession numbers of 22 per cent in between both clubs. He finished a -2 on Saturday night and turned the puck over that lead to a Bruins goal. With last year's playoff performance still in the back of the minds of Leafs' fans, it's clear that Gardiner will have to be stronger on the puck and make smarter plays if he wants to get back in the good books of Mike Babcock and a portion of the fanbase.