That doesn’t mean they won’t get out of the first round. I am expecting nothing other than an incredible snack schedule and some meaningful playoff hockey. That’s it.
It’s only fun to talk shit when you have a reason to, and five straight first-round game seven exits doesn’t make me very confident, and I’m tired of eating Maple Leaf’s playoff hockey shit sandwiches.
My Nervous System Can’t Take It.
I planned my 2023 Leaf games around the idea that nothing, other than the trade deadline, mattered in the regular season. I’d post up with my phone and some trail mix for the better part of 3 periods from time to time, but I’d work, fold laundry, answer emails, or make myself busy because the regular season didn’t matter.
Mitch’s point streak was fun. Nylander’s career season was neat. Woll’s emergence was excellent. Home ice in the first round is cool.
But now that the playoffs are here, I’ve decided to port my complete lack of expectations attitude into the playoffs.
Leafs VS Lightning..again. They have to beat the rest of the league while running from cursed history, so sit back, relax, and TRY to enjoy it. After that, it’s Boston or Florida. After that, other outstanding NHL teams with the same goal. There’s no easy path, so join Uncle Dean in having ZERO expectations other than, “MAYBE. We’ll see!”
History –> Indicator Of Future Performance.
The Maple Leafs have home ice for the first time in their recent miserable playoff history. That’s important. Keefe put the pedal to the medal to make sure of it down the stretch. Tampa is still Tampa. Big, mean, and very good, while Vasilevky is easily the best goaltender in the series. It’s not even close.
The Leafs are favorites to win the series, but I’m not listening. They’re deeper than Tampa, but the boogeyman of the last five years + Vasilevky + Kucherov + Hedmen + Stamkos = only a moron would predict a first-round Leaf victory.
If they beat Tampa, the record-setting Bruins are next (providing they make it out of the first round). Playoff parity in the NHL and MLB is a thing. It’s RARELY a surprise when an eight-seed beats a one-seed, and Florida was one of the best teams in the league down the stretch. Also, I’m excited to watch Marchand and Tkachuk try to murder each other for 5-7 games. That plays for the Leafs too.
Perfect Scenario, Not That I’m “Expecting” It
- Boston and Florida CRUSH each other in 7 games while the Leafs make quick work of Tampa.
- FLA or Bos limp into a series with Toronto, who spent a few days rehabbing after sweeping the Lightning.
- Matthews scores a hat trick every game, and Matthew Knies becomes Matthews 2.0 in a march to the final.
- Mitch Marner and his dog play on a line together, which becomes a made-for-TV movie called “NHL Air Bud & Mitch.”
- William Nylander walks away from the game after hoisting the cup to teach young men how to control their emotions at a cult-like compound in Sweden.
- Ryan O’Reilly retires and buys every Tim Horton’s franchise renaming them “Ryan O’Reilly’s.”
Perfect scenarios rarely pan out, so why bother?
You know the Maple Leafs are a better team than last year. They’re a Stanley Cup Favorite with a legitimate chance to win every night. Kyle did the work. The players did the job. We’re here, so try to enjoy it and not get too tied up in predicting results or stapling your emotional well-being to a consequence you can’t control.
Watch the games. Get shitfaced on a patio with your friends. Enjoy the vibe in the city. Maybe venture to Maple Leaf Square for some drunken grab-ass for $120 bucks. Expect the worst and plan for nothing else.
Haven’t you learned anything yet?
Toronto is just Buffalo North at this point, so join me in expecting nothing. It’s easier that way.
Dean Blundell is a Canadian radio personality. Best known as a longtime morning host on CFNY-FM (The Edge) in Toronto, Ontario. In 2015 he was named the new morning host on sports radio station CJCL (Sportsnet 590 The Fan). Dean started his career in radio in 2001 and for nearly 20 years been entertaining the radio audience. Dean’s newest venture is the launch of his site and podcast which is gaining tremendous momentum across North America.