The post Maple Leafs Injuries Difficult to Overcome in First-Round Loss appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are discouraged today as their team lost its round-one matchup against the Boston Bruins, a long-time opponent. Although we hate to mention injuries because all teams have them, and it’s too easy to use injuries as an excuse for losing, they did play a factor. Who knows whether they were the biggest reason for the series loss? Yet, they did play a role that can’t and shouldn’t be discounted.

Related: More Ignorant Noise About Auston Matthews’ Health

The Maple Leafs Lost Three Key Players in Nylander, Matthews, and Woll

William Nylander was out for the first three games of the series. When he returned, he led the team in goals in the series, with three in the four games he played. 

Auston Matthews was the driving force in Game 2’s 3-2 win. He was in on all three Toronto goals. Matthews also assisted on the first two goals and scored the game-winner. He was out in Games 5 and 6. We don’t yet know why.  It might have had something to do with him being tackled by Charlie McAvoy late in Game 3. It was reported before Game 4 that Matthews was dealing with something, but he played in the game. He was pulled from the game at the end of the second period and only played 14:16. 

Bruins vs Leafs Auston Matthews

However, perhaps the most significant loss might have been goalie Joseph Woll. He was amazing when he took over the net in the third period of Game 4 and his two starts in Games 5 and 6. While Ilya Samsonov had a strong enough Game 7, he wasn’t Woll.

Mitch Marner Might Have Been a Walking Wounded

We’ll also mention Mitch Marner as we discuss the team’s injuries. Although he suffered a high ankle sprain late in the season, he returned to play the last seven games of the regular season. He played pretty well in those games, scoring nine points (one goal and eight assists). But he looked slow in the postseason. As a result, hockey analyst Paul Bissonnette went off on Marner’s play during Game 4, saying he needed to be benched as an example for the rest of the team.

Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs forward

In Marner’s defense, he does not have blazing straight-line speed at best. However, he is a decent skater. His strength is his lateral movement and ability to change directions on a dime. He did not show that in the playoffs. Even during Game 7, he had a short-handed chance he might have played differently had he been completely healthy. High ankle sprains are notorious for lingering. It will be interesting to see if there’s any indication he might not have been 100%.

Injuries or Not, the Maple Leafs Postseason Is Over

Potentially, the Maple Leafs’ best three players (Matthews, Nylander, and Marner) and a goalie (Woll) who was the best goalie during the series all either missed games or were not playing 100% healthy. The Bruins stayed relatively healthy the whole series. That was a factor in the loss.

The Maple Leafs are out again—and far too early. They are not a bad team; however, it seemed that Harold Ballard’s curse rose up this postseason to beat them yet again.

[Note: I’d like to thank my often co-writer Stan Smith for his insights on this post.]

Related: Was Pastrnak’s Goal the Last Image of Mitch Marner as a Maple Leaf?

The post Maple Leafs Injuries Difficult to Overcome in First-Round Loss appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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