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Nothing will be the same for the Leafs regardless of the outcome of Game 7

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Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
“If you’re going to live, leave behind a legacy. Make an impact on the world that can never be erased.” – Maya Angelou
For better or for worse, this quote will ring true by the time this latest Game 7 ends for the Leafs. As they stare down the barrel of another make-or-break game, the franchise is at a major fork in the road that will dictate the course of their history for years to come.
There is no getting around the reality that this team has not been good when it comes to Game 7s. Going into this latest one, the team is a putrid 0-5 over the last decade-plus (0-6 if you include their Game 5 loss to the Blue Jackets in the bubble) with three of those losses coming at the hands of the Bruins at TD Garden. The last time they emerged victorious from a Game 7 was in 2004 when Joe Nieuwendyk got the best of Patrick Lalime on the same type of shot twice in one period. And you already know that the last time the Leafs won a series against the Bruins was back in 1959, eight years before they last won the Cup.
Yes, they slayed one big dragon last spring when they finally got past the first round, but there are still so many others that they have to face, including the team they are facing and the building the game will be played. You don’t need me to remind you of how the last three Game 7s at TD Garden went for the Leafs because the scent from those games continues to linger. Heck, this isn’t even the first time they were able to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in a series against Boston.
Leafs fans have been down this road too many times before and got burned in the past. While there are certainly some who remain optimistic about their chances, the vast majority of the fanbase has that existential dread of yet another loss in a decisive game looming large in their minds.
It’s not just the history of this team playing in Game 7s that has this city on the edge of their seat, it is also the fact that the core of this group has remained unchanged throughout all of that failure. While there have been changes to the GM, coach, and supporting cast, the heart of this team is still here in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly.  The same goes for team president Brendan Shanahan, who has been at the helm for a decade and only has one series win for his efforts. The players listed above may not have played in all of the Game 7s but their legacy is tied to those shortcomings whether they like it or not.
That includes the result of this latest one, which will have a ripple effect on this organization that will be felt for years to come.
If the Leafs can’t pull through for a sixth (or seventh) consecutive time, then it is over for this group. Not just for this season, but in general because there is a growing sense that major changes will be coming should they fall short yet again. But if they win, then this team gets a huge weight lifted off their shoulders and has a lot of confidence in themselves to push for greater heights. No pressure guys.
This is certainly not going to be an easy task when the Leafs power play is sitting at a putrid 1/20 through the first six games, their penalty kill is barely hovering over 50%, and they have gone 13 straight playoff games dating back to last year scoring three goals or less. Sheldon Keefe deserves a ton of credit for getting his players to buy into the desperation mentality that was needed to strave off elimination twice, but now that has to be done a third time and against the Bruins who will be equally as desperate as them. Becuase with or without Matthews, the Leafs will have their hands full trying to put away a team that is hoping to avoid blowing 3-1 series leads in consecutive seasons.
Any way you slices it, this latest Game 7 will be a legacy defining one for this group no matter the outcome. Will we see this groups finally exercise a demon that has plagued them for over a decade or will the same story of failure repeat itself and lead to a major shakeup? Regardless of what happens in this one, nothing will be the same for the Leafs when the final buzzer sounds.

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