Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Leafs will rebound from Game 1 disaster, or they’ll deserve what comes next

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

It’s the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t show up on time, they briefly got going with an offensive outburst, and then came the shaky calls and the stupid penalties and the non-existent big save when it was needed most. Now they’re embarrassed, in disarray and looking over their shoulders at ghosts.

Yeah, I’ll stop. You've heard it all. It’s the same old story.

The difference here is the timing. For all of the Leafs’ recent history of playoff misery, they’ve generally saved their worst for last. They look OK over the first few games, sometimes a lot better than OK, but then it all heads downhill as the series goes on. This year, they didn't waste any time.

Depending on your perspective, that could be a very bad sign. It could also be a sign that the script has already flipped. This team had better hope so.

If they needed a wakeup call, they got one on Tuesday night. It’s hard to figure how they possibly could have needed one, given that they’ve waited a year to get back to the only hockey that matters. They’ve known they’d get a rematch with the Lightning for months. They’ve known they’d have home ice for weeks. And they all know what’s at stake, for the players and the coaches and the entire organization. This time, for once, at least you knew that they’d be ready to go. Only then the puck dropped, and they absolutely weren’t.

So fine, they needed the wakeup. Now, they’d better be awake. Because there are two ways this could go.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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