The Toronto Maple Leafs looked to have the game in the bag, up 4-1 with 12 minutes of the game to be played. But, that was just when the Boston Bruins struck, putting up three answered goals to take the game to overtime.
The Maple Leafs could not recover from the loss of their three goal lead, and it was evident by the look on their faces. Patrice Bergeron was able to score the overtime winning goal to eliminate the Leafs.
The Leafs got goals from Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri and two goals from Cody Franson. The Boston goal scorers were Matt Bartkowski, Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron also went on to score the series winner.
The Maple Leafs played their type of game for first 50 minutes, but as they sat back to protect their lead, as Coach Randy Carlyle likes to see, Boston’s coach, Claude Julien, shortened the Bruins bench and was able to coax fourth a victory.
“That’s definitely among the top five lows in your life,” said James Reimer to reporters. “It’s just an empty feeling.”
“It’s probably the toughest loss I’ve had in pro hockey,” said Captain Dion Phaneuf.
“We gave it away,” said Cody Franson. “We gave it to them.”
“They took it to us and we sat back,” said Phil Kessel to reporters after the game.
When you step back and try and look at the positives of last night, a couple things emerge. The Leafs are the youngest hockey team in the NHL so they have plenty of room to grow and improve for next year. Another positive is that the Leafs were not swept by Boston, but took Game 7 to overtime.
Another positive was Kessel overcoming his difficulties playing well in Boston. Kessel was able to score and Boston, the series also saw Tyler Seguin go pointless.
One of the glaring deficits shown was a lack of skill in the face-off dot. Boston dominated, winning 43 face-offs to the Leaf’s 18. That is usually the job of Tyler Bozak, but he was injured in the last two games and is an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is rumoured that Bozak wants over $4 million a year, which is a lot to pay for what Bozak brings to the table.
Overall, the game ended in heartbreak for both the fans, but also the players. In ten minutes they lost their lead, then the chance to move onto the second round.
Over the summer, one must hope that Toronto’s run can dispel some of the doubts players had about playing in Toronto and help them attract some quality unrestricted free agents.
With the Leafs defeat and the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, still in the run for the Calder Cup, players will be sent down, including Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton.
The Leafs now have several months to rest and repair for the next season, while the front office prepares for both the NHL entry draft, but also to managing their books.
Next year the salary cap will drop, which means many teams will have to make deals or use a one of their buy-outs to comply with the new cap. The Leafs are currently lacking a real boat-anchor contract that will cause cap difficultly in the coming years, so they could perhaps make a deal to buy out a contract for another team.
In the coming days and weeks, there will be more in depth looks at different parts of the Toronto Maple Leafs team including, but not limited to: the forwards, defence, goal, our prospects, likely draft targets, and more in depth looks at specific players.