Latest posts by Omar White (see all)
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Six games. Five overtimes. One team advances, unfortunately it wasn’t the Leafs. Toronto drops game six and is the last time to be eliminated from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This isn’t going to be a typical Game Reaction. There wont be a Beauty, there wont be The Grease (well maybe), and there wont be a Disgusting. I’m just going to talk, or write.
The first five minutes after Marcus Johansson put in the OT winner was the definition of an emotional rollercoaster.
You remember for a split second in how the goal was scored. Martin Marincin again fails to box out his man, and the puck is in the net. However, the anger doesn’t last too long because it is followed by…
The realization starts to hit that the Leafs season is over. This team that has again bonded hockey fans all over the city is out of the playoffs. Some may have had hopes that they could bring the series back to Washington and end it in seven. Then you might remember that they had the lead after Auston Matthews made it 1-0 with 7:45 left in the period. And then, something magical happens. Those feelings of anger and those feelings of sadness slowly turn into…
From the beginning of the season, the narrative behind the Maple Leafs has been, “Can’t”.
“They can’t possibly start the season with six rookies in the opening line-up”. But they did, and those same rookies carried this team throughout the season. Auston Matthews will go down as the Leafs best rookie in franchise history. William Nylander grew through his early season struggles and is now a top-line dynamic winger. For weeks on end people were debating on whether Mitch Marner was big enough to play in the NHL. Well he proved all the doubters wrong being the driving force of the JVR-Bozak line. Connor Brown started out on the fourth line but played his way up into the top six. Although lacking the offensive touch, Zach Hyman’s grittyness and willingness to fight for the puck kept him on Matthews wing. And despite some mishaps, Connor Carrick’s growth on the backhand was evident and will only continue.
“Freddie Andersen has never played more than 60 games, can he be the Leafs #1?” Yes he can and yes he is. Even though he had a rocky start in the beginning of the season, Andersen is this team’s MVP. They wouldn’t be anywhere close to where they are now without him. And with that being said, back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney deserves a shoutout as well. He kept the Leafs in the hunt when Andersen was down and is just as responsible for their success in the second half of the season.
“The Leafs overpaid for Nazem Kadri”. I beg to differ. Instead of mailing it in and accepting the money, Kadri had a breakout season. With 32 goals and 61 points, his contract is looking one of the best in the league.
“Are you crazy, the Leafs won’t make the playoffs”. Not everyone was against this claim. Many had hopes that they would finish in the bubble, but they proved us wrong. Credit goes to Mike Babcock. Even though it’s easy to coach skilled players, it’s hard to coach them to play the right way.
“Washington will sweep them anyway”. Not even close.
One of the slogans in Leafs Nation is, “Buds All Day”. Although the Leafs have fallen, there will be a time when they’re back on top. We’ve seen it and we’ve felt it. For those who want to compare this team to the 2013 Colorado Avalanche or the 2016 Calgary Flames, stop it. The Leafs will be back in the playoffs.