Maple Leafs enter the playoffs on a downer | Hockey | CBC Sports

r1s8Maple Leafs enter the playoffs on a downer

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 | 11:09 PM

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Montreal Canadiens centre Lars Eller (81) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, bottom, as defenceman Cody Franson (right) tries to defend during first period Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press) Montreal Canadiens centre Lars Eller (81) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, bottom, as defenceman Cody Franson (right) tries to defend during first period Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

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If you're the glass half-empty type, the Maple Leafs provided their fans with another example - in a 4-1 loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens in the regular-season finale on Saturday night - not to get their hopes up in a first-round series against either against the Montreal Canadiens or Boston Bruins.

TORONTO -- If you're the glass half-full type, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoffs once and for all. That's a welcome development after nine years of torment for their long-suffering fanatics.

But if you're the glass half-empty type, the Maple Leafs provided their fans with another example - in a 4-1 loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens in the regular-season finale on Saturday night - not to get their hopes up in a first-round series against either the Canadiens or Boston Bruins.

But before we discuss the Maple Leafs' poor play in the last two weeks, here is how Toronto's first-round opponent will be determined: If the Bruins beat the Senators at home on Sunday evening either in regulation, overtime or a shootout, the Maple Leafs will clash with the Canadiens in the playoffs for the first time since 1979.

If the Bruins only manage to snatch a single point, Toronto will play Boston for the first time since 1974. A series against the Bruins is less desirable for the Maple Leafs because of their lack of success against Boston in the past few years. But Toronto did end an eight-game losing streak against the Bruins back more than a month ago.

"It's a new season now. You just have to forget about it. You look at the 48 games and what we accomplished," said Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, who was lifted in the third period after he yielded a fourth goal on the 23rd shot he faced.

"[Montreal and Boston] are two solid teams and we'll have our work cut out."

Especially, if the Maple Leafs continue to skate - or rather slip and slide - down the path they chose to travel late in the season.

Leafs break Bruins' hold

It all started back on March 23 with that 3-2 win at home against Boston. The Maple Leafs were outplayed and outshot 33-13, but they scored timely goals and received solid goaltending from Reimer to pull out the much-needed moral victory.

It was a trend that would occur too many times down the stretch. Yes, the Maple Leafs closed with a 10-5-2 run, but in those final 17 games they were outshot 15 times.

There also were a couple occasions in which the Maple Leafs were abysmal for long stretches in games like on Saturday evening, when all they could muster in second period was one shot on goal despite three power-play chances.

"I was mystified tonight," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "We had a real solid first period going for ourselves and we were playing the type of hockey that we feel or believe we have to play to have success.

"Momentum turned and we then lacked the competitive edge that we needed to win pucks on the wall. We started to turn the puck over and it went downhill from there. Once we got a couple power plays we only had one shot on net.

"That is not our type of hockey that is for sure. That is one of the things we need to figure out before it happens for whatever reason we went brain dead and our execution level went down."


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Reimer's off night

Against Montreal, Reimer suffered through an off night and there were no timely goals. The Maple Leafs failed to keep up with Montreal's speedy lineup.

It will be interesting to see what will transpire if the Maple Leafs and Canadiens meet up next week, especially after the way this game started and played out.

Of course, there were the words from Maple Leafs sniper Joffrey Lupul that his team was bigger and stronger than the Canadiens. So what does Montreal head coach Michel Therrien do? He starts a rugged group of Ryan White, Travis Moen and Brandon Prust for the opening face-off.

Carlyle countered with his fighters, Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, along with diligent centre Jay McClement. But nothing happens.

It was like the final chapter for the Maple Leafs' season. Nothing much happened for Toronto to like. But hey, they're in the playoffs.

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