Some people might paint a story in the coming days that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to be reassured by Tampa making it to the Stanley Cup final.
That should definitely not be the case. Just because the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to take them to seven games doesn’t mean we should be proud.
The only possible reason to be proud would have been to beat them in the first round and avoid any chance of a three-peat.
[Editor’s Note: Technically the Leafs are the only team to beat them in a playoff round, it’s just that one of the games didn’t count]†
Toronto Maple Leafs lost to a better team
However you look at it, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to a better team. Better in the sense that they scored more goals when it counted than the Leafs.
Granted, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team they beat in a playoff series this year, but they stopped scoring when it really counted in Game 6 or Game 7.
Of course, seeing Tampa in the Stanley Cup final is comforting if you want to play the hypothetical game.
After all, if the Maple Leafs had beaten Tampa, they would also have beaten the Florida Panthers and undone the New York Rangers.
This is where this kind of thinking is foolish. There’s no reassurance for Tampa to make it at all, at least not on the basis that it somehow means Toronto would have done the same.
The fact is, this Tampa Bay Lightning side found another gear after just getting past the Leafs. If Toronto had indeed won the first round, they too should have found an extra gear.
Whether the team had that extra gear I’m not so sure. You could definitely see weaknesses against Tampa and if they had made it to New York there’s a good chance Toronto would have been fought in the net.
People sometimes talk about this loss of the ultimate winner as if it means something. Simple fact – it doesn’t.
The Lightning have once again proven to be an absolute force in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, improving with each passing game. In fact, they arguably cleared the Leafs in first gear.
Perhaps this Stanley Cup final is a little different this year; no offense to the Dallas Stars or Montreal Canadiens, but the Colorado Avalanche is the biggest challenge Tampa has faced.
Whatever the outcome; much like the Canadiens who made it to the finals last season – the outcome will still be hollow for the Toronto Maple Leafs.