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s18 - Leafs First Round Exit? Who Could Have Guessed... [WB11]

2021-07-05

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins entered this year's first round playoff matchup separated by 10 points in the regular season. However, this was not a true indicator of how closely these two teams were matched. Toronto had the advantage of playing the regular season in the weak North East Division, while the Penguins faced much tougher competition in the Atlantic Division. The advantage that the Maple Leafs held going into this series was home ice. As we found out during this series, that was not an advantage at all, with the road team winning five of the six games in the series. Toronto was expecting big things out of this year‘s team MVP Tomas Plekanec. The second line centre produced only 2 points in the 6 games. Unfortunately, he did not hold up his end of the bargain in the defensive zone either and finished at -6 in the series. He was vastly outplayed by his counterpart centering the second line in Pittsburgh, Mike Fisher. This series saw five of the six games won by the same score of 3 to 2. The only exception was a 4-1 thrashing by the Penguins over the Maple Leafs in game five. Toronto went down early in the series losing the first two games at home both by that 3-2 score each. With Selanne moved up to the top line and Gaborik moved down to the second line, Toronto stormed back, winning both games in Pittsburgh by that same 3 to 2 score. With Toronto starting to grab some confidence Pittsburgh completely shut them down in game five back in Toronto with a 4-1 drubbing. To no one’s surprise Pittsburgh won the first home game of the entire series in game six again by a score of 3 to 2. Thus, putting the Maple Leafs out of their misery with an all-too-familiar first round exit. Toronto was led in the series by stars Eric Staal I Mike Ribeiro who produced six points and five points respectively in the six games. Goaltender Rob Zepp posted a 2.70 goals against average and a 0.923 save percentage. The Penguins now move on to face the Philadelphia Flyers in what should be a much tougher series for Pittsburgh. However, if they are able to shut down the top guns like they did against Toronto, they should have a decent chance. Best of luck the rest of the way Pittsburgh.

 

WC - 406