The post Maple Leafs Top List of 2024 NHL Playoffs First-Round Letdowns appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

As the first round of the playoffs draws to a close, it’s time to examine the unexpected twists that occurred. While some teams will be rightfully moving on, many events have caused disappointments for competing teams and their fanbase. Injuries, struggling stars, and subpar team play have been the cause for letdowns in Round 1. Here are a few noticeable upsets that pained the clubs that won’t be making it to the second round. Did the Game 7 loss by the Toronto Maple Leafs top the list of 2024 NHL Playoffs first-round letdowns? Or, does that honor go to someone else?

Ovechkin Held Off Scoresheet In 2024 NHL Playoffs

At the start of the season, Alex Ovechkin struggled with goal-scoring. In the first 43 games of the season the Washington Capitals’ captain had only registered eight goals. He was still producing at a fair pace putting up 29 points in that span. It still seemed like Ovechkin’s age was starting to catch up to him. Washington was still in the race for a playoff spot, but making it seemed like a reach at that point. By the end of the month of January, the Russian star completely turned it around. He scored in six games in a row almost doubling his season goal totals.

Alex Ovechkin scored no goals in the 2024 playoffs

A month and a half later, he recorded eight goals in a span of five games. The offensive contribution Ovechkin had in the second half of the season helped the team clinch a playoff spot. In surprising fashion, the veteran Capitals’ team made it to the postseason a few weeks after trading core forward Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ovechkin ended the campaign with 31 goals and 65 points. Considering he was this productive, on a team that had a minus – 37 goal differential, at the age of 39, is quite impressive.

Unfortunately for Washington, the team had to face off against the Presidents’ trophy-winning New York Rangers. The Capitals were swept by New York in a predictable matchup. Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet for every game. He scored no points and generated five shots in those four games. Washington had the best team in the league for an opponent. Truthfully, for David to have had a chance against Goliath, the Capitals’ captain needed to be more impactful.

Dubois Remains Unimpactful After Disappointing Season

In the summer of 2023, the Los Angeles Kings made a huge trade with the Winnipeg Jets, acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois. The return was forwards Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, and Rasmus Kupari, as well as a 2024 second-round pick. The move was a sign-and-trade in which Kevin Cheveldayoff, the Winnipeg general manager, signed Dubois to a $68 million contract for eight years. The Jets have been the clear winner of the trade.

In Vilardi’s first season, he put up 36 points in 47 games. Unfortunately, the Kingston native missed almost half the season due to injury, but still scored at a 62-point pace. Alex Iafallo also had a good first season with the Jets. He displayed a good two-way game and showed to be a reliable penalty killer.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Kings

In Los Angeles, the trade’s first look was a lot more worrisome. The Kings had assets they could move and were looking to make a deal to solidify their top six. Ideally, they would acquire a big talented center in his prime, knowing that would help in future playoff contests. Knowing Pierre-Luc Dubois wanted to join the Kings, it seemed like a solid bet. He could be a nice complement to Anze Kopitar being the first center while giving Philip Danault a more consistent shutdown role. While Dubois did show flashes of his talent in his first season, the results have been highly discouraging. The Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts center did not manage to generate more than 40 points. In 82 games played, he only scored nine even-strength goals.

The most alarming thing about Dubois’ play is his competitiveness and consistency. The 25-year-old forward was often uninvolved in plays, avoiding dirty areas. The Kings would be down by one goal and he would miss a tying opportunity because his stick was in the air missing a perfect pass near the net.

The Los Angeles Kings took on the Edmonton Oilers for the third year in a row in the first round. Like all three meetings prior, the Kings to the Oilers. The Dubois trade was supposed to add tremendous depth to matchups versus Edmonton. Dubois recorded a single point in five games. The 6 foot 4 forward did however have 20 penalty minutes through those games.

Pierre-Luc Dubois recorded only one point in the First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers.

Should the Kings consider buying out Dubois only one year into his eight-year contract? #GoKingsGo@JamieHersch | @Rupper17 | @BriBrows22 | #NHLNow

— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) May 4, 2024

The 2016 third-overall pick has already played for three NHL teams, after demanding a trade twice. Character is an important attribute of this sport and many times Dubois’ has been questionable.
The irony is that Vilardi and Dubois are basically the same height, weight, and age. Before the trade, Vilardi was just starting to break out in Los Angeles. It seems that the big physical scoring center they were looking for was right there in their system.

Jets Defense Blow Opportunity For Deep Run

The Winnipeg Jets faced off against one of the best offensive teams in the past few years in the Colorado Avalanche. Like the Kings, the Jets were beaten in five games. In each of those meetings, Winnipeg allowed at least four goals. Connor Hellebuyck, a Vezina nominee, couldn’t keep pucks out of his net, mostly due to turnovers from his teammates. The Avalanche did generate offense with ease. The Jets finished fourth in league standings, but failed to have more than one playoff win, in which they allowed six goals.

Questions now surround the future of coach Rick Bowness. He left it unclear whether he would return to the Jets next season. He has an option in his contract, but it’s not clear given his personal-life struggles last season if he’ll pick it up.

Maple Leafs Top Letdowns List: Fail To Stay Healthy, Eliminated in Seven Games

The Maple Leafs started the playoffs without star forward William Nylander, as he suffered from migraines. He later revealed his headaches were so bad he couldn’t really see. Toronto did manage to win game two in Boston without their 98-point player but they clearly missed him.

One week after the first week of the playoffs, the NHL’s top goal scorer in Auston Matthews was out with an unknown illness. Matthews was held out of the lineup in games five and six, finally returning for Game 7, which Toronto lost in overtime. While some credit should go to the Leafs’ depth who played well without two of their top stars, the fact the core four failed to deliver again might be one the biggest disappointments of the first round.

As expected, questions now surround the future of the roster. All four of Matthews, Nylander, Tavares, and Marner have no-move clauses, while the team has nearly a dozen UFAs and RFAs to make decisions on. There’s also talk about the future of the coaching staff, especially after Sheldon Keefe made comments that Toronto can’t find a way not to beat themselves.

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

The post Maple Leafs Top List of 2024 NHL Playoffs First-Round Letdowns appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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