TORONTO – If you still have to “turn the page,” as professional athletes are instructed to do after each final buzzer, the Toronto Maple Leafs Games Big Book is open through May 12-14, a couple of unbearably tight days. -goal losses to eventual Stanley Cup finalists.
For the good of the Nation, let’s not beat misery. However, with two key figures in Toronto’s Game 6 and Game 7 losses speaking publicly this week for the first time since those would-be series winners, it’s worth putting their sentiments on record.
Alexander Kerfoot needed time to process what went wrong in Tampa Bay.
“You try and learn from every experience, right?” the striker said on Friday. “It’s really no different than it has been the last two years. You learn from those experiences, but you also try to eliminate them as quickly as possible.
“Because once it’s done, it’s done. You can’t do much about it.
The sixth game took its toll on Kerfoot.
Fairly or not, some will remember his 2021-22 campaign not for posting a career-best 51 points and a 19+ rating, but for delivering an expensive gift in the neutral zone to Ondrej Palat in Period 1 and committing a high stick less than 200 feet. of his own net in Period 3 that led to a long 5-on-3 power play from Tampa.
Both errors led to lightning and the Maple Leafs lost 4-3 in overtime.
“My emotions weren’t great. Obviously, you never want to be on that side of things. And it’s different in a team sport than it is in an individual sport,” Kerfoot said.
“In an individual sport, you can live with those mistakes a little bit easier because it’s up to you. In a team sport, you make a mistake like that, it shocks the group. It affects the organization. It shocks the fan base that cares so much about this team. So yeah, it sucks.
“You never want to be involved in plays like that. But it happens. Like I said, you have to wash it off, move on to the next one. Obviously, the series did not turn out the way we wanted. But once the season is over, it’s over. And you just have to focus on getting better. I mean, I care a lot about this game, this sport, this team. I want to give my best for this group. I just have to keep doing that day by day.”
Give Kerfoot credit for answering questions about an old game with new horizons ahead.
The player moves on, toward a chance at redemption and a critical contract year. He won’t cry over spilled milk.
“Penalties happen. It was a tough time in the game for something like that. But they won fairly. They are a very good hockey team,” Kerfoot said.
“We had a chance in Game 7. We had a chance in [Game 6’s] overtime. It’s over now, and we’re just focused on this season.”
Leafs fans who believe in multiverses might go crazy wondering how the playoffs would have played out if Tampa hadn’t had a two-man lead … or if Justin Holl hadn’t been called for interference in Game 7.
Holl’s selection of Anthony Cirelli in the cycle freed up John Tavares to lob a puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy that, for a moment, appeared to tie Game 7 at 1-1.
Unfortunately, Holl was whistled for interference and the goal never made it to the board, a moment the defender relived during the offseason.
“That was a difficult decision. I felt that we were both on the same path. And I actually tried to get out of the way, and [Cirelli] like it entered me, or that’s what I felt. And maybe if that’s not a goal, it’s not called. But it was kind of a bang-bang situation. Obviously I didn’t love it, but that’s what it is,” Holl said.
“I really don’t think I would have done anything different. I tried to get out of the way. You just try to make the right decision at the right time, and sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you expected.”