Toronto – the best team.
Same devastating ending.
The best version of the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 2-1 on the ice at home to Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday and again marked the end of the season in seven games or less.
The difference between this version, this defeat, is that they showed up and twice gave the hero everything they could muster, never being late for the series until it was all over.
“Foliage has a great team,” said John Cooper of Tampa, who coaches Helova himself. “They’ve been knocking on the door for a long time. That’s why such a big deal was made about not progressing in a series – because they are a really good team.
“I think they have grown as a group. I think their stars are stars. They have a really good team game and the coach is doing a great job.”
In fact, heads should be held high.
However, the same old score – the first round and it’s finished – must have tasted familiarly bad.
Unlike the series select games of the past, Maple Leafs have been fast, engaging and aggressive since the disc dropped. They looked different. better.
Their long-suffering fans have brought that energy back.
Even as Nick Paul—that former Ottawa senator who’s been following every streak—opened the scoring by hitting Ross Colton’s rebound from the lunge.
Toronto’s John Tavares appeared to equalize in one game in the second half, but his clean shot was frayed by the selection of Justin Hall giving the captain extra space in the hole.
Defense man Morgan Riley by sprinting jump successfully resolved Andrei Vasilevsky’s call-in by ending a beautiful passing sequence by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to hold the match on the ground.
“Both teams hit the other on the ass a little bit. Both teams have chosen themselves and continue to do so,” said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe.
“We’ve been there with consecutive champions, and our men’s confidence has grown in knowing that they belong to this moment.”
Twas of the Counterpunch Series.
Naturally, Paul struck again, reclaiming the visitors’ lead with a heavy blow through TJ Brodie.
“He might not be the big guy. He might be someone you’ve never heard of doing something that takes us to the next level,” suggested Corey Perry in Tampa at Game 7 a.m.
“These are the places where names are made. They will appear in Game 7, and they will be remembered.”
The 2021-22 Toronto Maple Leafs must be remembered as a team that gave the champions their all. From the footsteps of a step in maturity, aggression and confidence, if not brackets.
Tragically for this fearsome city, they will also be remembered as yet another talented group that ultimately failed to get the thing done when it mattered most.
“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” said Cooper, whose more experienced team has benefited from both.
“You work so hard to put yourself in this position, it’s so hard when you lose. But, damn it, is it exhilarating when you win.”
Fox Fast 5
• Brayden Point fell awkwardly into the boards in the first period, spraining his right leg while beating Mark Giordano to a disc. In terrible pain, the star immediately left the match. Point bravely tried to take a turn in period 2 but she could barely skate.
• The Maple Leafs have not scored any power-playing goals in their past seven games as they attempt to clinch a playoff series. They had three chances to end that drought on Saturday.
Kifi speech before the match:
• Organized work by Julien BriseBois to obtain Nick Paul’s lease of senators for fourth floor selection as well as outstanding RFA Mathieu Joseph.
After 14 points in 21 regular season games for the Bolts, Paul was notable every night in his playoff streak for the first time. He had two equal-power passes and 10 shots before scoring his first two goals in Saturday’s playoff game.
• Vasilevsky’s ridiculous streak ended five times in a row in Tampa’s closing matches.