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Sunday FTB: It was different, but it still hurt

The Leafs played a great season and series but still lost.

Tampa Bay Lightining v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Seven Getty Images

This one is going to be short, for obvious reasons.

After the Leafs’ first round loss to Montreal, I said something for the first time. I didn’t care about the regular season at all, because even if they did have a great season I couldn’t trust they wouldn’t collapse in embarrassing fashion again. I repeated it throughout the season. I thought it when the Leafs struggled out of the gate, when they went on that crazy streak and Campbell looked like a Vezina candidate. I said it when they blew big leads, when they came back to win from huge deficits. I said it when Matthews scored 60+ goals, and 50 in 50 games.

They just had to win, and they didn’t.

Did they deserve to win? Maybe, though they didn’t play perfectly they did play very well for most of the series. I do think they were the better team for the whole of the series. I’m not going to touch on the reffing, or the bounces, the injuries, the luck or lack thereof. None of that really matters to me, because in the end that’s just hockey.

What sucks about losing last night isn’t that they lost in the first round again. It’s that they DID play great, almost all year. They had their rough patches, but every team does. Even the contenders. This year actually did feel different. It REALLY felt different in the playoff series. They gave the two time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, all that they could handle and more.

What sucks is that we didn’t get to see more of this great Leafs team go on a deep playoff run, because they were legitimately fun to watch.

So I want to say thank you to the Leafs, to management and coaching, to the players and the help staff and the prospects. Thanks to for making this season fun, for making it feel actually different. Like Keefe said in the post-game presser, this one hurts more BECAUSE they were a very good team playing very good hockey.

I hope we can see this core with some tweaks come back next season, with the management and coaching intact. Give them another chance to prove they can do it. Because this time, I can go into and through the season and believe in them.

ONTO THE LINKS

I’ll give us all a break from Leafs’ related stuff. It’ll be post-game and series analysis, meaningless quotes, and rumours from insiders that can’t possibly know anything for their future at the moment.

No suspension for Flames’ Zadorov for hit on Glendening | by TSN.ca

Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron mum on future: ‘It’s too fresh right now’ | by Sportsnet

You know Jarome Iginla. Now meet the next generation of Iginlas making their mark | by The Athletic, just a fun article looking at the next wave of Iginla’s kids that are about to become big names in men’s and women’s hockey in their own right.

That’s it for today. It’s a light FTB. Have fun in the nice weather with your loved ones. We’ll still be here every day, and I’m sure we will all meet again once we get to the draft, free agency, World Juniors (rescheduled for August), and the T25U25 series.

Cheers to y’all.