The Leafs have lost another game seven to the Bruins and those in Leaf Nation are trying to figure out why? Of course they will point the blame at their goaltender Freddie Anderson, the defensive struggles of Jake Gardner who many have named The Gardner Expressway, or the play of Patrick Marleau, who looks like time has caught up with him. These are all easy go to excuses to explain the lost. To me it boils down to three basic issues.
Austin Matthews did not play enough. He is the player that future teams should be built around. He is their most complete offensive player, who is big, strong, a great release and can skate. Down 2-1 going into the third period of game 7 and needing to grab momentum he should have been out every second shift. It is two line hockey, whatever your top six are for that night. The third line sees the ice every fifth shift, the fourth line does not see the ice.
The NHL got lucky with this series going seven games. Nazim Kadri got the minimum suspension he should have received for his cheap shot on Tory Krug. Kadri could have helped the Leafs in this series with his play and face off work. If he matched the pest factor of Brad Marchand and not gone over the line this series might have a different outcome. Kadri has probably played his last game for the Leafs. He cannot be trusted when it matters most. His emotions got the better of him for the second year in a row, which caused a behaviour that influenced his and the teams performance.
Finally, I think the Bruins knew they were going to win and the Leafs hoped they were going to win. Boston’s leadership group stepped up because the organization invested in them years earlier by putting them in that same position. Toronto had a great opportunity to invest in their young talent and they let it slip away. It was a defining moment for that group and the organization, but this moment defined them. This series loss is not on the players, it is on the General Manager, President, and to a certain extent the Coach.
It will be interesting how Leafs management are going handle 34 and 43. 43 has to go as he no longer has a place on the team due to his recurring actions, while 34 has to have a sit down with the GM and President and be told what the plan is and his role in. The Coaching component is 50/50 on a return. From afar it looks like there is a disconnection between Coach and star player and Coach and GM.
We all know who wins that power struggle.
Until next time!