The argument is, as I’m sure you’ve briefly pondered yourself, that if the Leafs were minutes away from beating Boston in the opening round, then they could have powered through the next few series. Both the Rangers and Penguins rolled over for the Bruins.
The fact is – it’s an apples vs oranges argument. Here are a few arguments:
- Toronto played the best hockey of the season in the round 1 matchup, far and away. Not likely could they have held that in deeper rounds against more playoff experienced teams.
- Reimer stood on his head. One can argue that he’s not normally known as a premium goaltender. He’s proved he’s good, but one series doesn’t make him elite. Not yet at least.
- Chara wasn’t as dominant against the Leafs as he was in the next two series. The Leafs did a great job of nailing him every opportunity. Once he woke up, the Big Man played his regular leadership role for the black and gold.
- Boston knuckled-down and played exceptional hockey in their own end, once they got past Toronto. They blocked shots, manhandled forwards in front of the net, and owned the defensive corners. It’s a perfect trifecta.
- Dennis Seidenberg is back, as is Andrew Ference. A couple of key players got back to help push the Bruins against the Rangers and Penguins.
- Phil Kessel’s four playoff goals were better than many offensive stars who were flat against the Rangers and Pens.
Could the Leafs be playing in the finals instead of the Bruins? Yes, but a great many stars would have had to have lined up perfectly – something that doesn’t usually happen for this blue and white squad. They pushed Boston to the brink, and we should be thrilled at that alone – and look towards an even stronger, more experienced squad next year.