Recent Playoff Failures
Boston bullied the Toronto Maple Leafs into choking in the first round of the 2018-19 playoffs. The Bruins went on to the Cup final and then got bullied by the St. Louis Blues.
Columbus bullied the Leafs in 2019-20 to defeat them in the qualifying round and keep them out of the playoffs altogether. The Jackets went on to face the Lightning, who literally hit them into submission on their way to the first of back-to-back championships. Most people don’t realize Tampa led the playoffs in hits/game that year.
Montreal bullied the Leafs in 4 straight games to win the first round series last year on their way to the Cup final, eventually losing to the dynasty also known as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Do you see a trend? It’s there. You can’t miss it. As good as this team is, and they’re REALLY good, they just don’t have enough mental or physical toughness when the games get a little nasty.
And in case you haven’t been watching the playoffs the last 3 years…the games tend to get a little nasty.
Is This Year Different?
I wrote an article here 10 months ago, where I asked myself if the Leafs had enough toughness to be successful in the post-season. Turns out, they didn’t. Has anything changed?
Tampa is the pinnacle of NHL success right now, but Tampa isn’t just skilled, they’re also tough. It’s the combination of both, together, that is the key to their incredible run. Tampa loses games just like the Leafs do, everybody does, but you won’t ever see the Lightning get bullied like the Leafs did on Thursday night.
Unfortunately, we all know that no matter how good this Leafs team is, they will be judged by their performance in the post-season.
Because of this, it looks like another trade acquisition with the incredibly unpopular word “grit” is coming. Prepare for it, because this core just doesn’t have the necessary toughness on its own, and Dubas knows it.
We all know that there will be more losses as the team grinds to 82 games. What we need to know, as fans, is that there won’t be any more losses where the Leafs get bullied.
It brings back bad memories, and Leaf fans have enough of those already.