x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hope for the Toronto Maple Leafs from their NHL heartbreak

In the blink of an eye, the Leafs went from being the toasts of Toronto to toast.

The Toronto Maple Leafs fans and players were left in shock by their collapse to the Boston Bruins.
The Toronto Maple Leafs fans and players were left in shock by their collapse to the Boston Bruins.

The epic Game 7 collapse by the Toronto Maple Leafs will not go away, either as a cold, historic fact or an enduring heartache.

After the Leafs became the first NHL team to squander a three-goal lead in the third period and lose a Game 7, forward Joffrey Lupul tweeted that the loss to the Boston Bruins "will haunt me until the day I die."

How could it not? The Bruins scored twice in the final 90 seconds to tie the game at 4-4 before they won in overtime, to ensure it was they who advanced to the second round of the play-offs.

In the blink of an eye, the Leafs went from being the toasts of Toronto to toast.

Not surprisingly, Claude Julien, the Boston coach, had an empathetic word for his opponent. "I have no doubt they'll grow from this," he said of the Leafs.

He would know. In 2010, his Bruins suffered their own nightmare for the ages.

They lost a second-round play-off series to Philadelphia, after leading 3-0 in games, and taking a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 at home.

A year later, Boston swept the Flyers out of the post-season. In winning the Stanley Cup, in Game 7 in Vancouver against the Canucks, the Bruins got an early lead and didn't let up. Lessons learnt.

Lupul and his Leafs teammates will never forget their own play-off horror. But there is always the chance it can be a beginning, not an end.

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