The Maple Leafs’ first-round playoff defeat was heavily influenced by their struggle with injuries, making it a tough hurdle to clear…Read more.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are disheartened following their first-round loss to the Boston Bruins, a familiar adversary. While injuries can be a touchy topic since every team deals with them and they can become a convenient excuse for a defeat, it’s undeniable that injuries had an impact on the series. Whether they were the primary cause of the loss is uncertain, but they certainly played a role that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Auston Matthews played a pivotal role in Toronto’s 3-2 victory in Game 2, contributing to all three goals, with assists on the first two and scoring the game-winning goal. However, he was absent for Games 5 and 6. The reason for his absence is not yet confirmed, but it could be related to an incident in Game 3 where he was tackled by Charlie McAvoy. It was noted before Game 4 that Matthews was dealing with some issue, but he still played in that game. However, he was taken out at the end of the second period after just 14 minutes and 16 seconds on the ice.

Perhaps the most impactful setback for the Maple Leafs was losing goalie Joseph Woll. His outstanding performance when he took over in the third period of Game 4 and his starts in Games 5 and 6 were crucial for Toronto. While Ilya Samsonov had a decent showing in Game 7, he wasn’t quite at the same level as Woll.

Mitch Marner Might Have Been a Walking Wounded

In discussing the Maple Leafs’ injuries, we should also consider Mitch Marner. After suffering a high ankle sprain late in the season, he came back to play the final seven games of the regular season, performing well with nine points (one goal and eight assists). However, his play in the postseason seemed sluggish. As a result, hockey analyst Paul Bissonnette criticized Marner’s performance during Game 4, suggesting that he should be benched to set an example for the rest of the team.

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.


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