For the 5th straight time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs failed to move out of the opening round of competition. The latest disappointment came in the form of a 3-1 loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their Round 1 North Division playoff series - and of course, that came on the heels of blowing a 3-1 series advantage.
It's a rather sobering (and almost unbelievable) statistical reality that the Maple Leafs have yet to win a playoff series since the invention of YouTube. The last time they enjoyed playoff success? The rocking Game 7 victory over the Ottawa Senators at the then-named Air Canada Centre in 2004. And management certainly has a long road ahead as they decide of where they can go from here.
And after the loss, the spotlight shone especially on young superstar forward Auston Matthews, who managed to light the lamp only once in the postseason after potting 41 goals in a mere 52 games played during the regular season.
However, he's promising things will be different this time around.
"It's obviously really frustrating," the Maple Leafs center said this week. "It [stinks] right now. People have opinions and they can say what they want, and rightfully so, but I really believe in the team and I really believe in all of the players on the team -- the core group especially.
"I truly believe that we're going to get it done. We're going to be better from our losses, and from the adversity that we faced."
Of course, this most recent playoff exit was only the latest in a long string of playoff disappointments in the hotbed of hockey.
"Extremely disappointing," Matthews said. "But it'll just feel that much better when we eventually get to the top."
The Leafs certainly weren't aided by the untimely injury to captain John Tavares, as well as blueliner Jake Muzzin being forced to miss the deciding Game 7 following an injury in Game 6.
Meanwhile, GM Kyle Dubas explained earlier this offseason that he'd "bet everything" that his squad would soon be able to find their way over the hump and compete for the Stanley Cup.
"I don't think that's news to us," Matthews said. "We know that's how he feels. When he reiterates that, it gives us confidence moving forward. That's all you can ask for, that your general manager and all your teammates truly believe in one another."