November 27, 2006

Stay Classy, Buffalo...

It was quite the intense weekend.

It began with the 7-1 beating the Leafs handed down to the Washington Capitals. What can I say? It was just one of those nights when the Leafs had all the bounces and everything was going in. Seven different goal scorers, and still missing Mats Sundin. The recent stretch without the Captain has shown the character of this team. At the start of the year I, along with most everybody else, was wondering who the heck was going to score goals on this team. Behind Sundin, the offense looked a little weak. But 25 games into the season and the Leafs have scored 89 goals, good for second-best in the Eastern Conference, and third in the league! The scoring is there, and it's pretty spread out. On top of those pretty darn impressive numbers, Sundin has missed time, and guys who were being counted on like - cough cough - Alex Steen, have produced next to nothing (one bloody goal, and it was while he was on his rump in front of the net against Calgary). I got to shout out the Captain. In training camp Sundin was one of the few guys saying that he believed this team could score, and had the talent to do so. He was right, and he is wise.

Saturday the Bruins came to town. The schedule is rearing its ugly head again, as these teams met for the third time in a week. I'm hating the 8 divisional games, and this is exactly why. Boston plays some incredibly boring hockey, and I don't really want to see them this often. It's not fun. It's not the "new NHL". The Bruins are great at shutting down the attack through the neutral zone, and the Leafs just can't do anything against them. I believe they are emplyoying the dreaded neutral zone trap, and it's working against the Leafs, who cannot be successful unless they can play the strong forechecking game that has become the norm under Paul Maurice. The game ended 3-1, and Tim Thomas played well for the Bruins again, although he wasn't tested as much as he should have been.

The third period in the game was definitely extremely entertaining. Way more than the second. I'm not sure how many rum and cokes I had, although I was starting to get up there, but I thought the third period was as good as any period I'd seen all year. The Leafs were down 2-1 and were pressing real hard. They were skating well, and generating chances. The play was back and forth and it honestly felt like a playoff game, and I was sure the Leafs were going to tie it up. But Boston did get the go ahead goal, and ironically it was Brad Boyes, the former Leaf who was traded for Owen Nolan.

Big Mats returned for this tilt, and almost typically after a 7-1 blowout, Sundin was the only one able to get one past Thomas. Those ten minutes in the third made the game. Otherwise it was another snoozer.

Thanks to the wonderful schedule the Bruins are in town on Tuesday as well. Hopefully the Leafs can adjust and take it to the B's this time. Oh, and props to Darcy Tucker for absolutely shollacking Zdeno Chara in the corner. Chara's a HUGE dude. We all remember how he bounced Bryan McCabe on the ice like a rag doll. It takes quite a lot of testicular fortitude to attempt and successfully knock him down with a good bodycheck. That's the beauty of Darcy Tucker. He has no fear, and doesn't play as if he is only five foot nine. He's an Alberta boy, that Tucker, but he's a born and bred Maple Leaf. God bless him.

Sunday was the annual trip with friends to the disgusting city of Buffalo for an NFL game between the Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. First of all, I want to thank God for the beautiful weather he blessed us with on this trip. This was the third year in a row I've gone down for a game with friends, and the weather the last two times hasn't been that great. This time it was sunny and almost 12 or 13 degrees celsius. Splendid weather!

I'm not sure I'll ever understand why people tailgate and get hammered so early in the morning to watch a football game, but it's fun to do once a year. I can't imagine how much alcohol is consumed before and during a football game in Buffalo. It's actually kind of disturbing. One ritual that my friends and I employ, which I absolutely love, is the beer session outside the gate of the stadium. We stand in a circle, pop open a number of beers, and everyone takes a swag or two or three and passes it on, till all the beer is done. Sounds charming eh? I know. It is.

I lodged on the American side of Niagara Falls, for the first time ever in life, on Saturday night. The American side of the falls is a disgrace. It's dirty. It stinks. It's just a very shoddy place. The Canadian side is hella better. I can't believe how terrible the U.S. side really is. It's not developed at all, and the casino looks like a convention centre turned casino. And the casino took a lot of my money. That adds to my disdain of the city.

I guess Niagara Falls, New York is a lot like Buffalo, New York. I'm so glad I don't live in Buffalo. It's a hideous city. The houses look terrible and very old. I'm hating, I know, but it's really bad down there. Toronto's marvellous, and the two cities can't even be compared. I guess going down there just makes me appreciate Toronto and it's people even more.

I'd definitely encourage sports fans to go to an NFL game once in their lifetime. It's a very interesting experience. Like I said, there's alcohol galore, and almost everyone is intoxicated. Men, women, children. Ok, well not really the children, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few were. Our group - Forty's 20 - had endzone seats that were pretty damn good. It was our first time in the endzone, and let me tell you, I've never been in a louder stadium.

It was a close game, the Bills won 27-24 on a last second field goal. The Jags tied it up with less than a minute left in the 4th quarter, and on their drive, they took 2 offside penalties that were a direct result of the crowd. The crowd really becomes the 12th man in football. It was pretty intense to be a part of that.

I'm not sure how old Ralph Wilson Stadium out in Orchard Park is, but Ralph, if you can see this, you need to invest in new washrooms. It's a pretty strange set up they got going down there. The men's washrooms employ the trough-style urinal. One long communal pisser. Everyone's hammered, and the line's get tremendously long. It's also a bit intimidating, because of the lack of privacy. A couple of us were talking about "stage fright" and all the pressure due to the ridiculously long lines. It's true! It's not a comfortable situation to be going to the washroom, especially as a young, brown fellow, amidst a sea of George W. Bush loving white men.

Anyway, the sink to wash your hands is like the one from my old high school - a communal sink, where u press the lever with your foot below, in order to get the water to come out. Now get this - the lines for the washrooms were so long, that fully grown men were relieving themselves in the sink. It was one of the most disgusting things I have seen in a long time, and I couldn't believe the amount of people doing this. I mean come on. We've all got to use the urinal, and we've all got to wait. For grown men to stoop that low was sickening. It turned me off of the Bills, the stadium and the city of Buffalo. Certainly there's no shout outs for the people of Buffalo. Damn sickos.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I hate to end the post on the washroom ettiquite of Buffalonians, or lack there of, but it was quite the pathetic display.

My friend Mike put it best:

"Stay classy, Buffalo!"

Goodnight, wonderful city of Toronto...