This has been a rather gruelling stretch for us Leafs fans. The last fun playoff moment for my team was April 20, 2004. Here's my recap of our easy 4-1 win over the Senators in game 7.
I would like to bottle this euphoric feeling I have right now in order to preserve it for moments in the future I'm feeling less joyous. What a fantastic night. For the fourth time in five years, the Ottawa Senators are going home early from the Stanley Cup playoffs thanks to my beloved Maple Leafs. Ottawa is 0-4 in series against Toronto and 0-4 in Game 7s overall.
Lest we forget Daniel Alfredsson's promise to win this series tonight at the ACC. Alfredsson, like the rest of his teammates, were all but invisible tonight. They have proven time and time again that they aren't built for the playoffs and can't win when it matters most. At the trade deadline, there was much speculation the Senators would upgrade between the pipes as Patrick Lalime was showing himself to be rather inconsistent. Staying with Lalime would prove to be their downfall. Tonight, in the most important game of the season, Lalime was horrible while Maple Leaf goaltender Eddie Belfour shone bright. Belfour was brilliant throughout the series and is the biggest reason I'm sitting here right now with a huge smile on my face.
Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!
Toronto wins series 4-3
The next day, I collected the reaction from the Ottawa press. The Sens had choked once more, and proven they can't beat the Leafs when it matters most. It was another collapse for a franchise with a rich history of collapses.
Fast forward to last night... I watched every second of the Pens vs. Sens, wondering when the Penguins would start trying. It looked awfully bad for Leafs fans, who root as passionately against the Sens and Habs as they do for the blue and white. But, the world reset itself, as it's apt to do. The Pens started trying, came back to force overtime, and ousted the Sens in six games.
When Pascal Dupuis scored 9:56 into overtime, eliminating the Senators from the playoffs, I cheered at the top of my lungs. In essence, it was a Leafs victory. When the Leafs aren't around come spring time, we root for ABO and ABM: Anybody But Ottawa and Anybody But Montreal. The Sens are done, and tomorrow I'll be a Caps fan cheering passionately for a Habs loss.
We're six years removed from our last playoffs, but there's still plenty to cheer about in the Barilkosphere. The Sens still choke.