The first round of the NHL Playoffs is over, and for the 6th straight season, the Leaf’s are one series and done.
Toronto was tasked with a tall order in these playoffs; to knock off the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They took the Lighting the distance but ultimately fell in seven games. This team was good enough to beat Tampa; they just lacked the will to finish. In game six, after the Leaf’s roared back to force overtime, they were all over Tampa in the extra period, shot after shot, scoring chance after scoring chance. The Leaf’s were simply unable to score that series-clinching goal; the same thing happened last year when they lost in overtime to Montreal in much the same fashion. This year, Matthews came within inches of ending the series, and moments later, Campbell surrendered a goal I’m sure he’d like to have back. You had to know at that moment, Leaf fans, it was over; a game six overtime heartbreak loss. It just needed to be drawn out over one final game, where Tampa put on a defensive clinic the Leaf’s were powerless to do much against. There is no doubt it was close, but that means nothing when winning means everything. There are no participation medals, this is the apparent business of winning, and Toronto lacks the will. I say the apparent business of winning because Toronto ownership is just fine printing money year after year as the sheepish Leaf fans haplessly follow them without question. How people still have jobs is beyond me. This team hammered Tampa in game one, only to look like a minor league team in game two, getting badly outplayed. They won game three and had another chance to prove that they could win a big game, only to be embarrassed again. For whatever reason, these players can’t win an important game. It’s no longer a myth; it’s a proven fact. This week already, Leaf management has reiterated the rubbish about this team being close to winning it all. The reality is Leaf management simply cannot acknowledge all the mistakes they have made, or rather business decisions to push an inferior product on people who are just willing to pay and not ask questions. It takes 16 wins in the playoffs to win the cup, I could argue that Montreal came close, winning 13 games last season, but they weren’t even close, as they lost to Tampa in 5 games. As for Toronto, in the previous six playoffs, they have won a total of 16 games. There you go, Leaf fans Toronto has won enough playoff games to win the Stanley Cup; they just did it over six seasons!
I’m sick and tired of hearing “what a year by Matthews.” The guy is good, but he is far from great, and he’s not worth $11 million a year. I don’t care that he scored 60 goals! What he should have been doing the last two weeks of the season, instead of trying to get meaningless goals against the bottom-feeding Detroit Red Wings, was work on his two-way game and his physicalness. The one person who has hit the nail on the head in all this post-series analysis is Don Cherry. He mentioned in an interview this week that the Leaf’s lack will. They need to draft more Canadian-born players and maybe more players from Ontario. Cherry has always had a soft spot for Canadian players, especially from the Kingston area. Ask yourself who the game seven hero for Tampa was? was it Kucherov, Hedman, or Andrei Vasilevskiy? Nope…. It was none other than Nicolas Paul. Yeah, I’d never heard of him either, but the guy scored both goals, including the game-winner, and he crashed the net trying to get his third during a scary play where he could have hurt himself just as easily as he could have hurt the Leaf’s goalie.
It’s a tenacity this team lacks at all levels. I’m not sure I need to mention that he is from right here in Toronto. It is true John Tavares is supposed to be that guy for the Leaf’s. For whatever reason he just isn’t, and his contract looks worse and worse all the time. It’s fine; you don’t want to blame Matthews, Marner, or Tavares, but there is no escaping those ridiculous contracts. Those three players account for 45% of the entire team’s cap space. I also told you the Giordano trade, albeit a decent trade, wasn’t the trade this team needed. Honestly, I don’t know who is worse, Leaf management or Leaf fans. Sorry, tell me again right now; who cares that Matthews scored 60 goals in the regular season? Absolutely no one, and if Matthews respects himself, he shouldn’t care either. Ask Yourself this Leaf fans and be honest! Would you trade Auston Matthews, American born for Connor McDavid, Ontario born right now? The answer is yes, you would! The Leaf’s currently have about $7.5 million dollars to sign 5 players this off season, that includes a starting goalie!