so the toronto maple leafs are going to the playoffs.
theyve clinched for the first time in ten years.
do you know why?
because they looked down the nose of the lack of expectations on them and they decided to ignore it all. the decided to ignore that this was supposed to be a rebuild year, ignore that no one expected greatness from them.
more specifically, the rookies and curtis mcelhinney decided to ignore that no one expected greatness from them.
(freddie andersen too, but by god, if that got put into this post, it would turn into a novel by the time i was done.)
curtis mcelhinney looked into the face of unimaginable pressure and took the weight of the world on his shoulders in this game. he went into this game NEVER expecting to actually play in it.
and he won.
the rookies. god, where do i start.
i guess i start with zach hyman, nikita soshnikov, and mitch marner, who weren’t on the scoring board (or in the game, in sosh’s case) in this, but who fought and fought and fought and skated their hearts out and played like their lives depended on it every single game this season. mitch and zach even broke a few records.
then i guess i have to go to nikita zaitsev. because holy fuck, if you dont think that man is not one of the best d-men on this team, you are dead wrong. his puck control tonight was incredible. he held the goddamn line like his life depended on it. he was right in there, creating offensive chances and making beautiful defensive plays, and without a single doubt helping us win the game.
kasperi kapanen, who definitely deserves a mention. we would not be in the playoffs without him. he has been put on a line that has had a rotating wing since the start of the season and he has invigorated it. he has made plays and created chances and now, finally, he has scored.
and then youve got auston matthews, william nylander, and connor brown.
auston matthews, who i could write a master’s thesis on. auston matthews, who has broken multiple scoring records not just for this team but for the league. auston matthews, who is the highest drafted latino EVER in the nhl. auston matthews, who just scored 40 goals in his rookie season, at 19 years of age. auston matthews, who is only going to get better.
william nylander. who was right next to auston on almost every play. who can take the puck and go one, two laps around the zone without being contested. whose shot already has a reputation, and whose playmaking ability is beyond belief, and hardly ever talked about in depth. william nylander, who everyone first thought would ‘save the leafs.’ he hasn’t done it alone, but damn, he has definitely be in the thick of it.
and connor brown. who is, without a single doubt in my mind, the leafs’ most consistent player. who is a forechecking DEMON, who gives opponents hell in the offensive zone and is rewarded far too little for it. connor brown, who takes so little minor penalties that i cant remember the last time he took one. connor brown, who has scored 20 goals. connor brown, who is constantly overlooked and brushed aside by toronto media and hockey fans alike. connor brown, who just scored the game winning goal of the most important game of the season.
these rookies. they stood up, they grabbed this team and the expectations on it by the shoulders, and said, “no, get out of the way, it’s our turn to win now.”
and they have.
dollwithagun: Miss these babies. Good, bad, ugly - these people were my family at an insane time in my life, and though it’s been far too long since we’ve been together, we fall back into laughter and care immediately. 💖