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Leafs’ Auston Matthews knows he came up short in series

In the end, Auston Matthews was not good enough for the Maple Leafs.

Certainly not with any consistency, and the 20-year-old knew as much after the Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins here on Wednesday night.

“I thought the first half of the series, it probably wasn’t good enough,” Matthews said of his performance Jerseys Wholesale From China.

“And then the next half, I had chances. I thought I did things right for the most part and just couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities.

“Sometimes that happens. That’s the way it goes. It’s frustrating for sure. You always want to contribute on the scoresheet.”

Matthews had 27 shots on goal in seven games — tied for the most in the series with the Bruins’ David Pastrnak — but never got beyond being just a threat in the offensive zone. He finished the series with one goal, in Game 3, and one assist, in Game 5.

No fewer than nine Leafs had more points in the series than Matthews. And where he was expected to be at the forefront of the Leafs’ production with Mitch Marner and William Nylander, only Marner came through, leading the team with nine points, including an assist in Game 7, and often dominated shifts.

Nylander played with the same kind of inconsistency that plagued Matthews, and ended with four points (one goal and three assists).

In the seven games, Matthews was on the ice for four Leafs goals while the teams were playing five-on-five, but also was on the ice for eight Bruins goals under the same circumstances.

Matthews led all Leafs forwards in ice time in the series, averaging 17 minutes 32 seconds a game.

He tried to put the situation in a positive light afterward.

“These are the moments we hope to be in, in the future,” Matthews said. “We have to find a way to make the most of it. We put ourselves in a good position there, up by one in the third and a couple of mistakes cost us.

“They’re at home, they have home-ice advantage, the crowd gets buzzing.

“Next thing you know there are two in the back of our net and we’re chasing the game.”

How much does Auston Matthews’ breakthrough really matter?

If you had to simplify this Bruins-Leafs series right down to its core so far , it’d look like a compilation of Auston Matthews swearing.

First, “(expletive) happens,” after his scoreless trip to Boston.

34:22 TOI, 46 shifts, nine shots on goal, no goals.

Part of the expletive that happened was inevitable — Toronto head coach Mike Babcock exhausted his leading scorer with too much time matching up against the Patrice Bergeron line. That’s a mistake he corrected in Game 3, rolling out Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec, and Mitch Marner against the Bruins’ top line.

Turns out letting your generational talent of a goal-scorer focus on scoring goals tends to work out. Babcock unleashed Matthews at the end of a long shift for the Bruins’ top line, and his tie-breaker doubled as the game-winner.

I mean, look at that face. That’s the face of a man who just remembered that he’s very good at playing hockey, and “(expletive) you” if you disagree.

If you’re terrible at reading lips or you’re squinting a little, it kinda looks like he’s saying “finally.” With the goal, he finally joined Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the ranks of players who have scored this series.

Look, I know that on a certain level it’s the stupidest thing ever to apply pointed stats like that after three games. It took two for Matthews to get on the scoreboard against Washington last postseason, then he scored five points (4 G, 1 A) in four games. Yes, that was against the Playoff Capitals™, but the point stands: Matthews is young enough that the confidence from “getting the first one out of the way” still holds some weight.

Even then, though, his Game 3 crank-up ultimately wasn’t enough to push his team through to the next round. That should serve as a simple reminder that even if he cranks it up again from here, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

If pointing out he’s currently in a heated tie with McQuaid for playoff goals is ridiculous, it’s just as silly to look at a guy’s face and ~feel~ like he’s bound for a Game 4 hat trick. I’m not trying to be the fun police — in the past 24 hours I’ve done all of the above.

This wasn’t going to be a series until Matthews broke through, and at the time he scored it seemed like a breakthrough.

It was a goal that desperately needed to happen. But it was still one goal.

Let’s pan over to the Bruins’ regular season points leaders this postseason: David Pastrnak has nine, Brad Marchand has six, Torey Krug and Bergeron have five apiece. If there’s a concern to takeaway from Game 3, it’s not that Matthews scored one goal, no matter how much fun he had doing it. It’s that they scored zero.

Babcock wasn’t afraid to take a match up risk with Plekanec on Bergeron, and it actually worked.