Toronto – Here, in that part of Canada that loves to be the center of the country – and the center of the ice hockey – the NHL playoffs have disappeared quickly and predictably. But hockey is raging like wild roses in Alberta, west.
The second round of the post-season starts on Tuesday and Canada, which had three teams on the pitch at the beginning of the post-season, is up to two.
In Toronto, the Maple Leafs lost their 7th game to reigning Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning, extending and setting several infamous records. Leafs, for example, have become The first team in history Defeat the NHL, NBA and Baseball in the knockout stages of the playoffs for five consecutive seasons.
In Alberta, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames each won their 7th game to move forward, deliciously, and meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
Oils Center Conor McDavid, Who is widely regarded as the best player in the game, scored on Saturday after a tireless effort when his team crushed the Los Angeles Kings. next week, Johnny GodrodThe left wing, who led the Flames to 115 points in the regular season, scored the goal and defeated the Dallas Stars in overtime and booked the Battle of Alberta.
(The Battle of Alberta is like a subway series between the Yankees and the Metes – instead of just the 7 and 4 train journeys, you take a three-hour journey by car on the North-South Highway 2, in the prairies. And sometimes you get a goalkeeper fight.)
The biggest stars scored the biggest goals when it meant the most in this playoffs. In New York, the Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins after star winger Artem Panarin scored in the 7th game in overtime.
But not in Toronto. In nine consecutive attempts to win a game that featured their opponent from a series of first-round playoffs dating back to 2004, Maple lost. They have not won a Stanley Cup since the 1966-67 season, and on Saturday night they overcame a 54-year Rangers Championship drought from 1940 to 1994. They have been in the playoffs for six seasons in a row and have failed to advance. every time.
After losing to Lightning in the 7th match at the press conference, the Toronto players, in a low voice and with red eyes, were sad.
“It’s hard to explain,” said team captain John Tavares, a former Islanders star born in the Toronto suburbs who signed a $ 77 million seven-year contract with the club he valued as a child in 2018. Loss. “.It’s painful. It is disappointing. We are trying to get to the end and we have not been able to overcome this barrier.”
“We are very disappointed,” said Auston Matthews, the American center-back who scored the league’s top 60 goals in the regular season.
“We’re sick and we’re tired of that feeling,” said Mitch Marner, a flank who grew up in a Toronto suburb.
A few hours later, in Edmonton, McDavid, who was playing like never before, was putting his team on his back. He leads all skaters in the playoffs with 14 points.
Unlike the low-talking Leafs, Leon Dreisitley happily talked about his teammate McDavid. “He’s the best player in the world,” said Drysitl, whose 55 goals are behind Matthews. “He has shown it in the last two games. It is not a skill. I mean he obviously has a lot of skills in it, it is given. It is a will. You can see it in his eyes. You can feel in every shift that he is there. He is determined. Just no “There was no way he or we could be rejected. He led the way. He was amazing.”
The Leafs failed to reach the 7th stage-worthy performance on Saturday from Matthews or any of their other stars. For the past 18 years, failure or no omission at the start of the playoffs has become predictable.
The ruins are numerous and it is difficult to pick the worst but two storms. In 2013, Lips led the Bruins, 4-1, in the third period of Game 7, before conceding three key goals – two in the last minute – and conceding Patrice Bergeron’s goal in overtime. Last season, the Leafs narrowed their three-match lead over Montreal Canadiens and lost their 7th game on home ice, while the Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup final.
This year’s loss to Laitin, the winner of the last two championships, softened the result for Lips coach Sheldon Keefe.
“It’s difficult because I really feel we are much closer than it looks,” Keefe said.
As the years go by, bands at the Stanley Cup, listing a dozen teams in each, are brought out to exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto to make room for new champions. The next group will be eliminated in 2031 and will send the 1977-78 winners to the hall forever from the 1965-66 season. If the leaves have not won before, they will go.
Do not feel too bad for Toronto. Hockey has always been his heart, but the multicultural spirit of the city has been experiencing intermittent joy from other sports since 1967. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA title in 2019. Toronto FC won the MLS Championship in 2017 (and reached the final in 2016 and 2019). That was recently, but Blue Jays won the World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, and the post-season hopes for this season are legitimately high. Toronto will be fine even if there are no Maple Leafs.
There are calls to blow up the team and close-ups of its well-paid stars. There are calls to “run back”. You do not mind. Look west where the playoff hockey will be wild, which guarantees that Canada has a team in the final four. And two, at least for the next week, and possibly longer. The Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since Montreal won it in 1993. The Battle of Alberta begins Wednesday in Calgary.
Daryl Sutter, a Flame coach and one of six brothers who played in the NHL and four coaches in the league, grew to a population of 1,083 in Viking, Alberta and 85 miles southeast of Edmonton.
“I am very lucky that two Canadian teams are still playing, from Alberta,” Sater told a post-match press conference. “Quite unique.”