Toronto Maple Leafs blow another first-round playoff series and nobody is surprised

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

The team has failed 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 razor-thin, hair-raising game but the Leafs would go on to lose the pivotal Game 7 to the Lightning on Saturday night by a score of 2-1adding another painful chapter to what sure feels like the worst postseason curse the NHL has ever seen.

The Leafs fell behind late in the first period and went into the third down 2-1, but despite some decent opportunities to even the score with an extra attacker in the final minutes, the buds couldn’t get it done for yet another year.

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

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

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

Even when the Leafs held a one-goal lead in a potential 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 deciding Game 7.

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

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

If you want to get a sense of just how long it’s been since the Leafs actually won a series back in 2004, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter had yet to launch. Leafs star Auston Matthews was only 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 mostly known as an online book-seller and Netflix was still a fledgling mail-based rental business.

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

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