They just never make it easy, do they.
In the salary cap era, the Leafs have played six playoff series’, and have played in six games where they can eliminate their opponent and move on to the next round. They have lost all six games. Four of those six are in game sevens, so the other team has just as much to lose, but this is the second time they’ve had an opportunity to close out a series before game seven, the other one being game six (in Toronto!) against Boston in 2019.
There’s no doubt that this series is different than the other ones. For starters, this is the best team the Leafs have iced out of the six playoff series’, and not just that, but they’re playing arguable their weakest opponent of the six. Columbus is debatable, but the skill gap wasn’t as big as it is in this series. On paper, this team should win this series, and not even need a game seven.
But, it’s the Leafs. They always have a habit of messing things up, and no matter how unlikely it seems, it’s always inevitable.
If this team wants to prove it’s for real, if this core wants to prove they can win, if Auston Matthews wants to prove that he’s one of the best players in the game, they gotta win tonight. Don’t even let it get to game seven, they need to rip this band aid off as soon as possible and finally win a series.
Their Cup chances are a bit bleaker now with John Tavares out for a while, but winning a series can still be good in the long run, even if it’s just to give this team the confidence they need to finally do it, and the experience to know how to. Mark my words, when this team finally does it, they are going to explode and take the hockey world by storm in the playoffs.
But they gotta do the thing first.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Nick Foligno is currently a game time decision, but he was struggling in the morning skate, so it’s not likely that he makes it into the lineup, so we’ll probably see Adam Brooks in again. Travis Dermott also slots back into the lineup in place of Rasmus Sandin, who didn’t have an ideal Game 5.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Jack Campbell will be in net for the Leafs, and Carey Price will be in net for the Canadiens. There were some people questioning Campbell’s performance on Thursday and if that means he shouldn’t start, but those people are media members looking for any controversy to garner clicks, so he’s staying in the net.
It’s Saturday night, so it’s time for your usually scheduled Leafs hockey programming on CBC and Sportsnet at it’s usually scheduled time… wait, it’s at 7:30pm tonight? But, why?