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Again, again… And again the same problem in Toronto

When I saw Sam Reinhart give the Panthers the win last night in overtime in Game 3 of the series against the Leafs, I thought, “Oh no. Not again…”

Well, yes, again.

With the Toronto team trailing 0-2 in the series, they needed to play a good game to try and save themselves with at least one Florida win. It was not to be…

And the main problem is still the same as in recent years. It’s not complicated. When it counts, the team’s star players simply don’t answer the call.

The Leafs’ big guns in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares combined for a grand total of… zero goals in the series against the Panthers.

How do you expect the team’s playoff curse to end when the leaders don’t help?

I wrote the day after the Leafs lost Game 2 of the series that the players seemed to “want it” even more than in recent years, and I have to admit I may have been wrong in saying that out loud.

At least, that’s how I feel after watching the all-star effort last night. It just seems they forgot how important the game was…

After the game, Matthews told reporters that the team shouldn’t be discouraged, even with the 0-3 deficit. It’s true, it’s totally true…

But the general feeling in Toronto right now is that, instead of playing the tape we all know, the American should be delivering the goods on the ice. And that’s even truer when we’re talking about such an important game.

After all, fans couldn’t care less about his fanciful comments. What they want is to see the team’s best player give his all on the ice, presence after presence.

And right now, he’s not. That’s the problem.

It’s strange to say, and I don’t think many people have predicted it, but the Panthers could sweep their opponents as early as Wednesday night. The game will be played in Florida, which isn’t necessarily good news for the Leafs…

And now there’s really no excuse. It’s going to be an uphill battle, of course. But if there’s one team talented enough on paper to rise to such a challenge, it’s Toronto.

Before that happens, the team’s star players will have to wake up.

Breaking news

– Timo Meier doesn’t hold a grudge against Jacob Trouba.

– The question arises.

– Finally.

– Really not, no.

– Jack Hughes will invite Cole Caufield to his party if he wins the Stanley Cup. [Habs and NHL]

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