When rugged Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin felt an agonizing pop in his groin and skated off the ice in Game 6, Toffoli felt the advantage shift away from the team that had once led the series 3-1.
“I think Muzz got hurt in Game 6, and I was like, ‘We’re going to Toronto. We’re winning Game 7.’ There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re winning. Because dude plays [20-plus] heavy minutes a night. He’s an incredible defenceman. It’s unfortunate he got hurt, but for us, it’s like, ‘Let’s finish Game 6, go to Toronto and win Game 7,’” Toffoli recalled Monday. (He scored in both Game 6 and 7 of that series.)
The Habs sniper recorded 31 Thoughts: The Podcast with Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman inside the Leafs' practice facility while a recovered Muzzin and the Maple Leafs chugged through a pre-camp scrimmage.
Toffoli and Muzzin lifted the Stanley Cup together as L.A. Kings in 2014.
“It’s frustrating,” said Muzzin, sidelined during a second consecutive post-season elimination.
“You take pride in looking after yourself and doing everything you can to prevent those kinds of injuries, and sometimes I guess they just happen. So, it's definitely frustrating for me.”
Although it was the heavily favoured Leafs who jumped out and snatched a stranglehold on the series, Toffoli said with Carey Price zoned in early, he sensed it was only a matter of time before the Canadiens started scoring.
“Going into the playoffs, everybody had no hope in us — going against Toronto, especially,” said Toffoli.
He heard the doubts as Montreal swept the Winnipeg Jets and rolled through the Vegas Golden Knights en route to the Stanley Cup final.
“It was almost never-ending,” Toffoli said of the naysayers. “It would’ve been the cherry on top to win it all and have Pricer and Webby [Shea Weber] win, but that’s the way it was.”
Look for Toffoli’s full interview on an upcoming episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast.