Wayback Wednesday: Speaking of Sweeps


Last night, the Montreal Canadiens swept Mike Kostka and the rest of the Blue and White in the first round. People would probably care about this more if it happened in 2013, but today, that means the elimination of the Tampa Bay Lightning. But that got me thinking; forget just winning a playoff series, when was the last time the Leafs swept a team?

Let’s go back to 2000/01. The Leafs were set to take on the Ottawa Senators for the second consecutive year, and it looked like the Leafs were going to be the underdogs going in. The Sens after all, were the 2nd seed to Toronto’s 7th, and had 14 points more than the year prior, compared to Toronto’s decline of 10. Here’s what I remember as nine year old watching this series.

  • Patrick Lalime used to “roll” his neck a lot during the National Anthem and I thought that was really cool. I stole the superstition for myself, despite him playing for Ottawa.
  • Magnus Arvedson’s name used to mess with me a lot, because it was kinda sorta like Daniel Alfredsson. 
  • A family friend who lived in the same apartment building was a Senators fan and my dad and I would go watch the games at his place because my mom didn’t like hockey. He always had Kool Aid around, which was cool because Kool Aid tastes awesome.
  • He also made me take the “Bet You Can’t Eat Just One” campaign for Lays seriously. I ate one chip during this series and didn’t start eating Lays again for about five years. I’m an idiot.
  • Between Games 3 and 4, recess at my school (the recently demolished Briar Hill Junior PS) consisted of a bunch of us playing catch with a tennis ball while screaming “SWEEP! SWEEP!” while it sailed through the air. Give us a break, we were kids.
  • Curtis Joseph was really, really good.

In reality, that bottom point was the one that mattered the most. Looking back, the Sens probably outplayed the Leafs. The first two games saw Ottawa outshoot Toronto 36 to 27 and 37 to 23, but Joseph posted back to back shutouts in a pair of close games. 

In fact, Joseph’s first goal against didn’t come until the dying minutes of Game 3, and was quickly followed by a tying goal. This wasn’t a Game 7 against Boston scenario, however, as Cory Cross did this thing to send the Leafs to Game 4 in complete control:

Game Four was one for the ages, and by that, I mean Yanic Perreault scored two goals in two shots in twelve minutes, further proving that he was Tyler Bozak on steroids when Tyler Bozak was just starting to figure out what being a teenager was.

Other fun stuff surrounding these playoffs:

  • This was Bryan McCabe’s first year with the team.
  • Jonas Hoglund (lol), Igor Korolev (RIP), and a young Alyn McCauley were the exclusive members of the “played 10+ games and couldn’t get a point in the playoffs” club
  • Steve Thomas was almost a point per game in this two-round run, because it’s the playoffs and he was Steve Thomas.
  • The Leafs went on to lose to eventual the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils in 7 games.
  • CBC Analyst Glenn Healy was on this team. He had no playoff minutes and a 0.885 SV% in the regular season, one of the worst performances from a Leafs goaltender in the past couple decades and the last time he’d play in the NHL.
  • MattyFranchise

    This wasn’t a great team. Their season shot differential was 50.3% but against better competition in the playoffs they managed a terrible shot differential of only 42.9%.

    This is what happens when people look at scores and don’t look at what the underlying analytics are saying. This wasn a pretty average team who just got “lucky” with some timely scoring and great goaltending.