NHL

Maple Leafs' Latest Game 7 Implosion in Boston Is Worse Than 2013

The Bruins' 2013 comeback involved an extraordinary amount of luck. Toronto's loss this year saw Frederik Andersen and Jake Gardiner completely crumble, and felt preventable.

by Dave Lozo
Apr 26 2018, 2:41pm

Photo by Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

You know how some movie reboots will have new casts but similar stories? They will sprinkle in some of the actors and actresses from the original story for fan service so you can point at the screen and say, "Oh yeah! I remember him!" You leave the theater feeling somewhat duped, though, because you already saw this a long time ago and you just paid for it again.

Anyway, the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their first-round series by blowing a third-period lead. The Leafs forced the Game 7 after staving off elimination in Games 5 and 6 but lost Game 7 by scoring four goals in a building full of people that hold Rene Rancourt in high regard for some reason.

Jake Gardiner was on the ice for three even-strength goals against in 2013 but like any good sequel, he discovered another level by being on the ice for five even-strength goals against in 2018. He offered a strong supporting performance five years ago but showed he was ready to headline Wednesday. He had people weeping. It was truly a tour de force.

The only thing left to do now is decide which was worse—the 2013 collapse, the 2018 collapse or getting repeatedly hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

THE START

2013: The Bruins score first but the Leafs take a one-goal lead into the third period.
2018: The Leafs score first and take a one-goal lead into the third period.
Quarters: You are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT’S WORSE? Yeah, allowing Matt Bartkowski to put you in a 1-0 hole in 2013 was bad, but you have to give it to being hit in the face with a sack of quarters. That's immediate pain that will at least leave you bruised and at most render you unconscious. You'd much rather deal with the first 40 minutes of these Leafs games than the sack of quarters.

THE ANNOUNCING

2013: Brian Engblom
2018: Pierre McGuire
Quarters: You are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT'S WORSE? This only applies to the American broadcasts because that's what I have to deal with here. This comes down to having the collapse narrated by Pierre vs. being hit in the face by a sack of quarters. It's close, but you'd rather be hit in the face with the sack of quarters because at no point will the sack gush about how relaxed Mike Babcock looks. And while Pierre will make you feel uncomfortable for two hours, the sack of quarters sends you into a blissful, dark sleep free from Pierre's voice in less than three minutes. There is nothing worse than Pierre blathering about the relaxed demeanor of a grown man.

THE GOALTENDING

2013: James Reimer
2018: Frederik Andersen
Quarters: You are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT'S WORSE? Reimer allowed three goals in the third period and another in overtime while Andersen was beaten three times in the third period and never even got to overtime. Andersen's first two goals were utterly horrendous and worse than anything Reimer allowed in 2013. If you had hit Andersen in the face with a sack of quarters at the start of the third period until he was out cold in the crease, neither Torey Krug nor Jake DeBrusk get their shots through the leaky Andersen for goals. Really, if the Leafs dropped the sack of quarters in the crease and played 6-on-5 for the final 20 minutes, they are flying to Tampa right now.

Photo by Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

THE EXPECTATIONS

2013: Leafs were a 5 seed playing a 4 seed.
2018: Leafs were a 5 seed playing a 2 seed (in a normal bracket setup).
Quarters: It's going to hurt when you are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT'S WORSE? All of these sting in different ways. With the sack of quarters, they are swung at your face, then they hit you in the face and it hurts; there's no letdown or surprise there. In 2013, it was a lockout-shortened season and the Leafs had been terrible forever and the Bruins were Cup contenders. In 2018, the Bruins are again Cup contenders but the Leafs were ready to take another step. It was supposed to be different. While the 2013 team dressed Colton Orr for a Game 7, this year's team had Kasperi Kapanen as a 12th forward who scored a key shorthanded goal. This year's team had more talent and it still lost. Instead of walking away upset about a crushing postseason loss after a half-season, now you walk away wondering how this team can get better. That's a way worse feeling than having your face caved in by a sack of quarters.

THE SCAPEGOATS

2013: Nobody?
2018: Everybody?
Quarters: You are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT'S WORSE? You can't be angry at a sack of quarters for being a sack of quarters, as a sack of quarters can only be a sack of quarters. The 2013 collapse was sudden and since Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist in the game, it felt like Toronto didn't have anyone to blame. Maybe Reimer took some heat but that loss wasn't on him. In 2018, you can pick between Gardiner and Andersen. Hell, you're going to hear this was Auston Matthews' fault before the week is over. That's why 2018 is so much worse, because by Friday you're going to get the galaxy brain take that this was all somehow Kessel's fault. You'll be begging to be hit by a sack of quarters by Thursday afternoon.

THE THIRD PERIOD

2013: The Leafs led 3-1 but allowed three goals in the final 10:42 and one more in overtime to lose.
2018: The Leafs led 4-3 but allowed two goals in the first 5:25 of the third period and never found a tying goal.
Quarters: You are hit in the face with a sack of quarters.

WHAT’S WORSE? This is really a pick your own poison thing. Quarters are quarters. A three-goal lead with barely a half-period to play seems worse on the surface than a one-goal lead with pretty much the entire third period to play but what happened in 2018 was way more devastating. When the Bruins forced overtime in 2013, they scored two 6-on-5 goals, which requires a level of luck rarely seen in a hockey game; in 2018, the Leafs simply shit themselves and there was no luck involved. I could sleep better knowing how much luck was involved in my demise as opposed to knowing Andersen and Gardiner imploded.

THE FINAL VERDICT

Maybe this is because it's fresh, but 2018 is worse than 2013 and worse than being repeatedly hit in the face with a sack of quarters. While 2013 felt inevitable, 2018 feels like it was preventable. If things aren't different now, when will they be different? Worse than that, how can they be different? What changes need to be made? Will this lead to the front office making a panic move to fix the blue line? Will this set off a chain reaction that derails the team?

After you think about it, you'd much rather be repeatedly hit in the face by a sack of quarters... that will eventually be thrown at the feet of John Carlson.