Another promising season, another disappointing first-round exit. Coming into this year, a sixth consecutive first-round exit for the Toronto Maple Leafs was all but certain to result in significant organizational changes at the management, coaching, and player levels. And yet, fresh off their Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, any such drastic changes would be incredibly reactionary and short-sighted.
As silly as it may sound, this first-round loss was not like the previous occasions. They weren’t outcoached like they were against Boston. There wasn’t a lack of effort or belief like there seemed to be against Columbus and especially Montreal. Rather, the Maple Leafs went toe-to-toe against the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, had them against the ropes as no other team has done in the past two playoffs, and narrowly came up short.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had faced elimination just once since the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs when the New York Islanders pushed them to seven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinals. Not only were the Leafs the second team to push them to seven, but they are also the only team over the past two playoffs to have the series lead heading into Game 6.
Now, you aren’t in …
Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation