Ryan O'Reilly most important player in Leafs vs Lightning series
The 32-year-old forward acquired by Toronto at the NHL trade deadline has two goals and five assists in four postseason games but it's playoff experience that is proving invaluable as the Maple Leafs seek to close out Tampa in Game 5.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Ryan O'Reilly is the most important player for the Leafs in this series. He's more important than Auston Matthews, more important than Mitch Marner.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He's the most important player of this series. He is. He is. He brought a game to overtime. He's scored with some huge plays. His leadership has helped this team out in so many moments. And if this team finds itself in a position where they lose game 5 and everyone is all like, oh, man, they're gonna mess it up, that is the guy I'm looking to in the locker room if I'm a Leafs player, being like, OK, what do we need to do to avoid the unpleasantness that comes with blowing a series? He knows what to do in that situation, and I don't think there's anyone in that locker room more important right now than Ryan O'Reilly.
OK, I've said my piece. Omar, you can have it back.
- Yeah, but to be honest, I just want to connect to that directly because, even after game 1-- horrible, horrible performance in game 1. And when they asked Ryan O'Reilly about it, he's like, I'm unbothered. Eh, it's whatever. Comes out in game 2. They have their performance. They battle back. You see him talking on the bench. He was the most hyped person when Kerfoot got the overtime winner in game 4.
Usually, from my experience as a Leafs fan, when we make our trade-deadline acquisitions, either they don't do much, or they get hurt, which makes them not do much. And this year, you're seeing Dubas's acquisitions have active roles in where they are right now. As you mentioned, Ryan O'Reilly has been great, has been fantastic. Noel Acciari has 2 goals, incredible. Jake McCabe is literally on the top [? pier, ?] getting those high-quality defensive assignments, and has been great.
The only person that hasn't been carrying their weight is Sam Lafferty, but you know what? Bottom six. Doesn't matter. So everything is working well, and it's wicked, but here's the caveat, is that-- different teams-- they're in the exact same position that they were against Montreal.