This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.
One season after engineering a tank so masterful that the American government wants to overpay for it in the next round of defense spending, the Toronto Maple Leafs put forth a magical season that fans will likely remember as the start of something special. They went toe-to-toe with the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and lost in six hard-fought games, including a fifth overtime affair in a 2-1 Game 6 loss Sunday night.
While there may be some "what if" questions about such a tight series that saw the Leafs lose three of four games in overtime, it's hard to find anything negative in the team's 2016-17 season. But "what if" we look a little closer at this series? Can we find a few bad things to go with the good?
The good: Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner proved the postseason stage was not too big for them. They combined for 13 points in six games, which doesn't include fellow rookie Kasperi Kapanen scoring twice with one of his goals coming in overtime of Game 2. Zach Hyman also had a goal and three assists, adding credence to the idea the future is extremely bright in Toronto.
The bad: Umm, where is the problem here? The regular season bonus overages that will count against the salary cap next year? Now is not the time for overthinking that. And if the Blackhawks can find a way to remain competitive despite their cap issues, the Leafs are going to be just fine with all these players (except Hyman) remaining on entry-level deals next season.
The good: Frederik Andersen was .918 in the regular season and .915 in the postseason. Those aren't world-beating numbers but behind a Leafs team that was still growing as the season and playoffs progressed, he showed he can be relied upon. He was great in Game 6, making 34 saves.
The bad: That Marcus Johansson goal that tied it in Game 6 wasn't great, but that was mostly that aforementioned defense creating the chance with a turnover. That Tom Wilson overtime winner in Game 1 was rough. But overall, you have to feel good about Andersen as the No. 1 goaltender for the next four seasons. Nothing bad to see here, either.
The good: Nazem Kadri proved he can be an agitating two-way center, even if he only had a goal and an assist. He put 18 shots on net so his lack of production could have been better if he had some more shooting luck.
The bad: The diving. He dove a lot in the series. Wait, you think I'm upset with Kadri diving? No way. I'm upset he didn't dive more. He's good at it! Really! If referees don't want to call penalties in the playoffs, this is a useful tactic. Hopefully he'll dive more with the Leafs in the playoffs next year.
The good: Dart Guy! You had to fear we'd learn something awful about him after he became instantly famous, like he dips his pizza in mayonnaise or he's secretly a Blackhawks fans, but he turned out to be a likeable marquee fan.
The bad: You'd think the bad would be that it's over just as we were getting to know him, but get real. If the Leafs went two or three rounds, you'd have turned on him. He would have gone from "Dart Guy" to "Dart Guy Powered By Monster Energy Drinks." Then he would have been doing local car commercials and painting corporate logos on his face. You would have started calling him "Fart Guy" and nobody needs that. A six-game run was the perfect length to get to know Dart Guy and the NHL's next dominant team.