Going into this first-round series against Montréal, the Leafs were the heavy favourites. Naturally Leafs fans got more worried by that. It’s not that Leafs fans don’t want to hear the odds, they just don’t want to hear them when they’re good odds.
The motto of the fanbase is “this is why we can’t have nice things”. Carlton the Bear is more the Marlies mascot than the Leafs, and that’s not because the team is conservative and wants to drape themselves in Original Six serious business trappings. It’s because they can’t get the rights to Eeyore, the mascot of every Leafs fan in their heart.
At first glace, Leafs fans might seem a bit... fully committed to this persona of pessimism, one might even say they’re puppets of this self-image. But there is some legitimate reasons to be dubious of the team that has found more ways to be bad than the Oilers can ever dream of.
Maybe it’s time to cut those puppet strings, though, and be a little optimistic? Just a touch upbeat.
ALEX GALCHENYUK 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 26, 2021
Dagger Empty-netter pic.twitter.com/8prtr5CRSe
Moneypuck, one of those places that heavily favoured the Leafs in odds before the series began, now has the Leafs with the greatest chance of making the second round of any team not already in the second round. Sure, some of that is because the Leafs lead the series 3 -1, which is a very difficult deficit to come back from, particularly when you’ve just been clowned in your own rink two games in a row.
What were you expecting? A close series?
Maple Leafs vs Canadiens Expected Goals: 14.28 - 8.99. That’s about 3.5 xG per game, and the Leafs, one of the top five teams in the NHL in the regular season in offensive measures averaged 3 xG per game.
Did you think these guys decided to play for $700,000 because they thought the media attention would be fun?
Spezza finds Thornton perfectly pic.twitter.com/uZODK8v0pL— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 26, 2021
Go look at Moneypuck’s odds for the Leafs to make the third round. Hell, keep going and look at the chances of making the finals of all the top teams, and to win the cup. What’s that you say? I shouldn’t talk about that yet? Well, get used to it. The Leafs are a top team, they have been since about game 11 of the regular season. The Leafs are one of the best teams offensively in the NHL. They’re fun, they are skilled and dynamic and they have enough to overcome teams that try to deaden the game down to luck. They are exciting.
Zach Hyman missed the empty net— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 26, 2021
WHO STOLE HIS POWER! pic.twitter.com/XexxDKljQQ
Wait, no not that one, this one.
JASON SPEZZA 🚨 #WinItForJT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 22, 2021
VINTAGE IS ON THE BOARD! pic.twitter.com/s4LX1or6Cu
AUSTON MATTHEWS 🚨 #WinItForJT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 23, 2021
FIRST OF THE SERIES! LET'S GO! pic.twitter.com/pEa7n6S72g
The Leafs aren’t just clowning along because their path is strewn with rose petals. They have faced heavy adversity from before game one. John Tavares is out, Nick Folingo is out, Zach Hyman is clearly not at full power. Riley Nash is struggling with a very hard job —debuting in the playoffs, and remember defensive depth Ben Hutton? He’s out too with an unnamed illness.
If a GM’s deadline acquisitions all exit the building along with the 2C and captain, a bad team folds. A good team does this:
Eeyore has a point, though. Realism is important, because nothing is guaranteed in the most random of sports. Making the best of what you have requires you to understand what you do have fearlessly and truthfully. The Leafs are a great team.
Maybe it’s time to switch fulltime to dancing zebra as the mascot of Leafs fandom.
PPP advises that the above has the sort of lyrics you should expect from a group named LMFAO, and you can mute or not.
Maybe we can change the motto to: Everybody dance now!
Go Leafs Go!