Toronto Maple Leafs screw up another first-round playoff series and no one is surprised

You almost knew it was going to happen. The Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to maintain their historic choking streak and lose again in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

The team hasn’t been able to earn a trip to the second round of the playoffs since 2004, and it always seems to go down in the most heartbreaking way possible.

It was a very fine and hair-raising game, but the Leafs went on to lose the pivotal Game 7 to the Lightning on Saturday night by a score of 2-1adding another painful chapter to what surely feels like the worst postseason curse the NHL has ever seen.

The Leafs trailed late in the first period and entered the third down 2-1, but despite some decent opportunities to even the score with an additional attacker in the closing minutes, the Leafs couldn’t do it for another year.

There were some questionable calls, a disallowed goal and all the classic evidence of a cosmic curse that the franchise seems unable to shake.

Many fans were upset with the referees, to say the least.

Saturday night’s loss is just another gut-wrenching punch in a long parade of misery, the team once again losing control of a series and pushing the streak of bad luck closer to the territory of mathematical impossibility.

Even when the Leafs had a one-goal lead in a series-clinching Game 6 on Thursday, fans knew not to count their chickens, and the team predictably lost the lead and then fell in overtime, forcing a Game 7. decisive.

And based on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ many miserable Game 7 first-round experiences stretching back over the past decade, a good chunk of fans correctly assumed this wasn’t going to end well.

Some of the NHL’s biggest stars will now get a head start on the golf season as fans are likely to be looking for off-season blood as it seems neither the talent-packed roster nor the franchise’s front office can offer more than three playoff wins per year.

If you want an idea of ​​how long it’s been since the Leafs won a series in 2004, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to launch. Leafs star Auston Matthews was just six years old, while linemate Mitch Marner was just seven.

The last time the Leafs won a series, the Toronto skyline looked like this, Google looked like this, Amazon was known primarily as an online book seller, and Netflix was still a fledgling mail-order rental business.

But hey, there’s always next year, right?

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