BOSTON — Jake Gardiner is one of the few remaining Toronto Maple Leafs players from the 2013 team that lost Game 7 to the Boston Bruins in historic fashion, so Wednesday’s season-ending Game 7 loss at TD Garden must have been particularly hard for him.
Making matters worse for the 27-year-old defenseman is the fact he probably was the worst player on the ice in the Leafs’ 7-4 defeat to the Bruins at TD Garden.
Gardiner was emotional after the game, and took a good portion of the blame for his team’s result.
Gardiner played 24:01 and was on the ice for many of Boston’s goals Wednesday, including the two that sealed the Bruins’ win. He finished with a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-5.
He failed to stop Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins forward’s charge to the net in the third period with the score tied 4-4. Instead of poking the puck away from DeBrusk, Gardiner leveled him with the body, but by that time the puck was gone from the rookie’s stick and into the Toronto net.
The B’s went up 5-4 as a result, and David Pastrnak put them ahead 6-4 with a goal at 11:39 of the third period, where again, Gardiner’s defense wasn’t good enough.
To his credit, Gardiner had a really good season for the Leafs, but he played his worst game at the wrong time, and it’s a huge reason why Toronto’s summer vacation has begun early.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images