The season came to a crashing halt for the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night in Boston.
With a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead over the Bruins midway through the third period, Nathan Horton's goal made Leaf fans a little nervous. When Milan Lucic scored with less than two minutes to play, the clock seemed to stop running. And when Patrice Bergeron scored the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation, the collapse was all but complete. Bergeron's overtime winner almost seemed inevitable.
No doubt, Leaf fans used some choice words as they watched their team's season disintegrate in a matter of minutes. But before Monday night's loss, they also used many superlatives to describe their team that was not expected to make the playoffs.
Throughout this lockout-shortened campaign, many different words have been used to describe the Leafs' season but if you could use just one, what would it be?
If you go back to January, the season began with low expectations so perhaps 'encouraging' would be the appropriate word at this point. The team showed improvement throughout the season and, with one week to go in the schedule, had an opportunity to finish first in the Northeast Division and claim the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite finishing fifth in the conference, it marked the first time in nine years there was playoff hockey in Toronto. If you had been told the Leafs would lose in the first round of the playoffs back then, that would seem like a good accomplishment.
However, when the Leafs rebounded from a 3-1 series deficit and held a sizeable lead in the third period of Game 7, advancing to the second round seemed like a foregone conclusion. But knowing how Game 7 ended, maybe 'collapse' is the best way to define the season. With all the momentum in Blue and White, many of the feel-good thoughts were replaced by bitter disappointment as many realized a rare opportunity had been missed. With higher expectations comes a greater chance to be letdown, a feeling Leafs fans all too well.
With the team exceeding the early expectations but not meeting the new levels, 'rollercoaster' could be the operative word. They started off slowly, climbed up during the regular season to the summit of the playoffs before crashing down at an alarming rate. There were plenty of ups and downs but it was a great ride.
For those who have witnessed all the trials and tribulations of the Leafs over the years, perhaps 'typical' is the right word to use. As the team with the longest Stanley Cup drought, failures have been more plentiful than successes so it's not surprising that they would steal defeat from the jaws of victory. The law of averages just doesn't seem to hold for the Leafs.
These are just some of the words that could be used to describe the 2012-13 season in Toronto but there are plenty more words in the dictionary.
If you could use just one word to the describe the Leafs' season, what would it be?
As always, it's Your! Call.