Hard Luck Toronto Maple Leafs Deserve Better Outcome

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are going to game seven.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost last night, after storming back with a gritty come-from-behind third period, for the second straight game, and outshooting the Canadiens 13-2 in overtime.

Once again, the Leafs have blown a huge lead (franchise specialty) and of course the fans are freaking out.

But relax.  This is a great team.  Hockey is a weird game where weird things sometimes happen.  The team hasn’t so much choked as been ridiculously unlucky. (all stats naturalstattrick.com).

Toronto Maple Leafs Would Otherwise Have No Luck At All

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been the better team for all six games of this series.  Even last night when the Canadiens were better for two periods, the Leafs played so dominantly the rest of the game that they ended up being the team with the better overall stats.

This doesn’t excuse coming out flat for two periods in an elimination game. I’m not saying that the team hasn’t shot themselves in the foot occasionally, but those things are going to happen to every team, good and bad.  The Leafs have not been perfect, but they have played well enough to win, that is for sure.

The Leafs had 24 scoring chances to Montreal’s four after the second period ended last night.  Sure, they could have played better to start the game, but the Habs for some reason were allowed to suddenly have fans in their building and came out on fire.   You could have expected as much.

The Leafs have survived the loss of Tavares and now Jake Muzzin, and despite that, have still been the overall better team in six of six games.  Montreal is goalie-ing the Leafs just like Columbus did.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s more unlucky than anything else.

You can be upset with the result, but I think the effort has been there. The Leafs could have ended this series in four, five or six games by playing no differently.  All that you can ask of a team is that they do their best, and I think this team has.

The worst thing you can say about the Leafs this time is that their two best players haven’t produced.  That sucks, but certainly those players have played excellently.  If Matthews and Marner play the exact way they have played over the last six games for every game in the rest of their careers, they’ll both be in the hall of fame.   The odds of these two players playing the way that they have played and getting the results that they have gotten are extremely low.   So low as to not even be worth worrying about.

Matthews and Marner – despite complete on ice domination – have one goal on 49 combined shots.  That really sucks, but it’s not like they are playing bad or haven’t showed up. It’s just one of those things.  It really can’t be explained.  Neither of these two guys have probably ever been on such an unlucky streak in their lives.

It’s terrible timing, but these things happen.  Matthews is due.  Marner is due.  The Leafs lost two games in overtime, one on a terrible play that resulted in one of maybe three two-man breakaways we’ve seen all season, and the other on a shot that hit a skate and deflected in.

That last one, by the way, should not have counted.  Right before the goal, Jeff Petry, who should be suspended for game seven, elbowed Alex Galchenyuk in the head and the Leafs should have been on a five minute powerplay at the time of the losing goal.

I know this sound like I’m making excuses, and that’s fine.  Excuses are also called reasons.  The Leafs, despite the injuries and the bad luck, have played a very good series.  They could easily have won in four.  They could easily have won both of the last two games.

Next. Time to Rise Above the Ghosts. dark

It is time for someone to step up, and I understand the need to see actual results, but all the Leafs really need is a bit of good luck for once.  Two games in a row this team showed they won’t quit by making great comebacks.  They’ve been the better team and deserve to go to round two.