The Maple Leafs have been handed many lessons over recent years in the playoffs but defeat in a seven-game series with the Tampa Bay Lightning was more of an opportunity missed.
- Was this team different? Kind of. Kind of. I'm not going to-- I'm not going to negate what they did in the regular season. I'm not going to do that because there is some incredible things from this team in the regular season. But for it to be truly appreciated, they have to find a way to get it done in the playoffs. And I don't know what you do. I don't know what you do.
I can't-- I can't pinpoint, like, do this, and do that, and do this, and do that. I couldn't do it last year. And then, Dubas found a way to make the team better, again, in the regular season. Now, do you just wipe your hands and say, you know what? Well, if they're going to lose to any team, I'm glad it happened to Tampa.
Again, I'm not-- I'm not-- I understand that perspective. And I respect that perspective if that's a perspective that you have. If you're sitting here saying, you know what? It sucks that they lost. And I'm bothered that they lost. But you know what? They lost to the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions who have been there before, who know how to win in those tight games, know how to change their game up, who have an incredible goaltender. If you're there, then I completely respect that. I'm just not. I'm not.
That was a winnable series. Just like last year, winnable series. [INAUDIBLE] the year before, winnable series. 2019, winnable series. 2018, that one-- 2018 and 2017, those are the two years where I go, well, I'll chalk it up to, well, that's just some lessons you got to learn. [INAUDIBLE] 2017, that was the first Matthews year. But we didn't even expect them to make the playoffs.
Like yeah, Matthews just got here. We're expecting-- [? Nylander ?] just for first full season, Marner's first full season. Zach Hyman came out of nowhere. A whole bunch of rookies in the lineup. Right? Frederik Andersen's first year as a Leaf. That team had zero expectations. So them making the playoffs was just like, it was sweet. It was awesome.
The year after, the core there has a year under their belt. They're kind of learning the league a little bit more. I think they went up-- I think they were up like 5-3 or 5-2 heading into the third period against Boston and then blew that lead. Those are lessons. But yeah, year after that, 2019, that's a winnable. Could've Ended it in game 6, lost. Go back in game 7, lose that series.
Columbus. It was Columbus. It was Columbus. That's a series-- that's a team you should beat. Oh, but they swept Tampa that one time. Yeah, that's a series you should win. Oh, the Korpisalo was awesome. Yeah. Yeah, but still.
That one, that's the series you should win. But also, a lot of circumstances, the season had ended for a while, come back, playoff bubble, that type of stuff. And last year, it was just-- last year, it was just a big pile of no where it's absolutely a winnable series.
And then this series against Tampa, again, it's Tampa. They're a hard team. They're a difficult team. They have their reputation for a reason. But there is no point where I thought that the Leafs were overwhelmed, that the Leafs were being stomped, that the Leafs couldn't compete, that they couldn't skate with them. At no point in my mind did I think that the Leafs were-- that the Lightning were out of their league. It was a winnable series from the beginning.