It's a broken record at this point for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For the 5th straight time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they've 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. Fans will immediately remember veteran forward Joe Nieuwendyk scoring two brutal goals on net minder Patrick Lalime, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
It was that kind of depth scoring that Toronto relied on in their last playoff series win, and it's what powered Montreal to their seven-game upset. How about a few more sobering statistics?
Montreal forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki each are paid less than $1 million a season ($925,000 and $863,333, respectively). And yet, the pair of Habs scored five times the goals of two of the highest paid players in the National Hockey League today who don the Maple Leafs sweater in Auston Matthews ($11,640,250) and Mitch Marner ($10,903,000). Matthews managed to light the lamp only once in the postseason after potting 41 goals in a mere 52 games played during the regular season, while Marner failed to find the scoresheet after scoring 20 goals in 55 regular season games.
The only top player that came through for Toronto against Montreal was forward William Nylander, who scored five goals in the seven games, including breaking goaltender Carey Price's shutout bid last night with just over a minute remaining in regulation, though it was too little, too late.
Of course, unfortunately for Toronto, superstar forward and captain John Tavares was injured thanks to an errant knee to the head from Corey Perry, ending any chance of his potentially returning in Round 1.
GM Kyle Dubas once again has an arduous task ahead of him for an offseason that arrived far too early.