Here is the unedited beginning of an obituary for the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the first puck drop of their series against the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals. To repeat, the italicized segment of this article was written the morning of Thursday April 13th:
The Toronto Maple Laughs no more. They are a playoff team now, a part of the big boy club. Well, for about a week anyway – four or five games if you want to get more specific. The 5th game only happens if the following clip comes to life for the Washington Capitals.
Toronto’s demise is a foregone conclusion unless Alex Ovechkin plays his brand of dbag hockey where he becomes Gollum and the puck is his Precious. Even if Ovie does go all me-myself-and-I, does anybody believe the Leafs can stop or even slow the Caps down. Let’s be honest, if you were turning on a Maple Leafs game it was because you wanted to see a high scoring game. In this situation, the Capitals fit the bill of running up the score while the Leafs duo of dynamic youngsters (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner) will be buying Braden Holtby jersey’s post series to burn.
Leafs nation is known to throw common sense to the wind but when you are the playoff team that gave up the most goals (242) during the course of the season and you are entering Game 1 with a banged up goalie…eep!
Back to the future, the thought process behind the Leafs bringing the Capitals to overtime in game one was that Washington was over-confident. It was easy to believe that the 2-0 lead spotted the Buds was likely to be only lead they would enjoy in the series. Except of course, it was not! The Leafs scored the opening goal of game two and the last goal of game two tying the series.
Okay, surely losing at home was going to be the slap in the face the Capitals needed to dispose of the young upstart Leafs. Again, except of course, it was not! The Capitals scored two goals before most people were done their first over-priced beer and the Leafs goalie registered a save. The Capitals had a two goal lead early in the second AND a full 2-minute 5-on-3 powerplay BUT found themselves in another overtime game against the scrappy Leafs…and the Leafs won…again.
My apologies Leafs nation, your young bucks deserve to be in the playoffs. You have earned this writer’s respect even if you lose the next three games in a row. Just don’t get me started on the Auston Matthews/Connor McDavid debate!