The Maple Leafs enjoyed success early in the season, but as the months wore on and the games became tougher, they wilted.
It's your mess now, Shanny.
A little less than one year after the Toronto Maple Leafs offered up so much promise for the future, they served up yet another dog's breakfast of a performance on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. Just days earlier, the Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention for the eighth time in nine seasons.
The Maple Leafs enjoyed success early in the season, but as the months wore on, and the games became tougher, they wilted. Another 18-wheeler gone over a cliff.
Brendan Shanahan will be introduced as the organization's new president Monday morning and he brings with the appointment a celebrated history of winning. For an organization that has not won since 1967, that is significant. Of course, former team president Ken Dryden also had a winning pedigree and he wasn't able to transform the Blue and White into champions.
The last game was awful. An embarrassment.
In a season that was ultimately dreadful, it may have been the lowest of the low. The Maple Leafs had nothing to play for and that is exactly how they performed in losing 1-0 to the Senators.
Battle of Ontario?
The last few weeks have been a grind for the Maple Leafs.
"It's terribly disappointing from an emotional standpoint," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's almost like you get in as state of depression because it's such a negative in your life. We're embarrassed about the way things have gone for our hockey club."
Carlyle was asked which hurt worst; losing Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs to Boston in overtime after blowing a 4-1 third-period lead or this year's late-season collapse.
"I think this has been extended over a period of time and has really dragged a lot of people and emotions with it," he said. "Where the Game 7 was over in a period and it hurt, they are both equally cutting. I think this has been drawn out over weeks and in the last three games we just didn't have enough energy and didn't have enough execution to play the game that was required to get us a win."
Toronto's Tyler Bozak swatted a high flying puck into the net at 8:28 of the first period and, quite correctly, the goal was waved off. A few minutes later the Senators appeared to have the game's first goal, but it, too, was waved off because of incidental contact with the goalie.
This one counted
Ottawa centre Jason Spezza gave his team a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the second period with a one-timer from the faceoff circle with Toronto's Paul Ranger in the penalty box for holding. The puck went in off the far goal post largely because Toronto goalie James Reimer was tucked too deep in his goal.
You just knew it was coming
Midway through the third period a disgruntled Toronto fan (one presumes) tossed a Maple Leafs jersey on the ice. Another one hit the ice a few minutes later. This, of course, was a copycat reaction to another lousy season that was displayed by Edmonton Oilers fans a few weeks ago. Weird that it would happen on the road. Former Leaf goalie Ben Scrivens angrily scooped the sweater up with his stick and tossed it back into the crowd. There was no Maple Leafs reaction when their jersey was dissed.
Reimer's farewell performance?
Reimer played his 140th and perhaps his final game as a member of the Maple Leafs. That was one game after the team opted (with Reimer's blessing) to give 30-year-old Drew MacIntyre his first NHL start in Florida Thursday. The 26-year-old Morweena, Man., native is slated to be a restricted free agent this summer, but he believes he should be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL and the Maple Leafs have Jonathan Bernier as their starter.
For what it is worth Reimer played a very solid game. His best save came in the third period when he turned back Jean-Gabriel Pageau on a breakaway.
"He stood tall in the net for us," Carlyle said.
Don't call him a 40-goal scorer
Toronto's Phil Kessel is often referred to as a 40-goal scorer because clearly he has the potential to be one. Yet in eight NHL seasons he has never hit the 40-goal plateau. It seemed imminent he'd score 40 this year, but Kessel managed just one goal in his final nine games and wound up with 37. That matched his single-season high from two years ago.
More than a cup of coffee this time
Defenceman Petter Granberg was summoned to Florida this week by the Maple Leafs just in case Ranger was unable to play because of the flu. Turned out Ranger was okay so Granberg, 21, had dinner and then hopped a flight back to Toronto.
At least he picked up an NHL pay day. Anyway, the big Swede who possesses a low panic threshold made his NHL debut in Ottawa. Granberg was chosen in the 2010 NHL entry draft 116th overall, and has played very well with the AHL Marlies this season. At six-foot-three and a little more than 200 pound, he is expected to compete for a top-six job with the Maple Leafs next season.
Granberg gave a good account of himself against the Senators, playing 18 shifts for 11:46 ice time with three hits.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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