Last spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs fell into the gifted team trap against a roster heading into the playoffs through the back door.
It was a matter of formality.
Two weeks later, Carey Price and that fired-up defensive squad did the unthinkable. The Canadiens eliminated the Leafs because Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and their group thought they were safe by staying in their comfort zone.
They were trapped. As in previous years when they failed in the final matches.
Can we jump to the same conclusion this year?
Some would say they dropped the streak in the game
Saturday's final match clearly demonstrated this. When Brayden Point fell in battle, it was believed to be the end of the Lightning. How could he resist against one of the best teams in the league?
Again, the Lightning players had an answer. They offered a clinic on the art of countering the opponent. How many blocked shots? And by whom? A bit everyone. They fought like a champion knows how to do: showing a lot of energy and avoiding turnovers. And, in net, Andrei Vasilevskiy, once again, was masterful.
Matthews et Marner
In Toronto, it is once again a season that ends in disappointment. But this time, the Maple Leafs have nothing to be ashamed of their performance.
They were facing a giant. Matthews and Marner provided a commendable effort except that they are asked to stand out in the most strategic moments, but they did not score. In fact, they had to make a difference. It didn't materialize, again.
Can we expect changes at the administrative level? Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas have built a top team. A spectacular formation.
But, in the end, it is the victories that influence the decision makers. The Leafs have failed not without having struggled, without having battled, but they are unable to get out of the quagmire in which they have been entangled for years, that is to say, to learn how to win the ultimate game.
Will there be any staffing changes? Without a doubt. If Dubas and Shanahan continue the adventure, if they obtain the blessing of the owners, they will have to find quick solutions. Hurry up.
Auston Matthews will play next year, the fourth season of his five-year contract. Remember, he turned down a seven or eight year deal.
So, after the next season, we will know the plan that the league's top scorer has concocted for the rest of his career. Starting July 1, 2023, the Leafs will be able to begin negotiations with Matthews, who will be entering the final year of his contract.
Does he want to stay in Toronto?
It will be a file that will raise speculation, a file that will monopolize all the attention.
When Matthews demanded a five-year deal, were we to conclude that he could eventually leave Toronto?
If he keeps up the momentum, he'll break the bank. Whether in Toronto or at home in the United States. He has made a business decision and a decision that will provide him with several options.
Therefore, the leaders of the Leafs, during their post-mortem in front of the owners, will have to develop a business model with future prospects that can undergo several upheavals in the not very distant future.
Bergeron: in reflection
In another vein, I observed Patrice Bergeron, after the elimination of the Boston Bruins, against a superior team, that of the Carolina Hurricanes. He stayed on the ice, he hugged each of the Bruins players and then headed to his team's locker room.
Later, he answered the question about whether he will be back next year, and he dropped that he would take his time before announcing his decision.
The Bruins captain has just completed his 18th season with this team. 1216 games in the regular season and 147 in the playoffs. He is the image of this team, a player who has always represented his organization well, a skater who belongs to this group of athletes who have been admired and adored by sports fans in this great region.
Brad Marchand, shaken by the defeat of the Bruins, but especially by the possibility that it was perhaps the last game for his lifelong teammate, did not hide the fact that he sees himself badly without his center player at its ratings. “We have spent the last 13 years on the same line of attack. I can't imagine this team without him. He is the heart of the Bruins. »
Marchand does not know what decision will be made by Patrice Bergeron, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
But he's absolutely right when he says it's hard to imagine the Bruins without their great leader.
It is said in the Boston area that he belongs in the same category as Tom Brady among the athletes most appreciated by the public.
The Bruins' loss to the Hurricanes will also have repercussions. Patience does not live in the leaders of the Bruins. The organization knows very well that there is an important shift to be made.
The last series showed that this team lacks depth. His defensive brigade is healthy, but his attack needs a shock treatment. When Bergeron and Marchand aren't producing, the Bruins run out of steam. We tried a few experiments, including the presence of David Pastrnak on the second line, but the results were inconclusive, especially in the playoffs.
As for the captain, it's a safe bet that the owners of the Bruins will reserve an important position for him in the organization chart of the company if he ever decides to retire.