March 04, 2007


The Leafs were a busy team this weekend. A road victory in the Swamp over the Devils via the dreaded shootout, and another whipping at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres on home ice.

Here are my deep thoughts:

- Cam Janssen is, for lack of a better phrase, a piece of shit. Tomas Kaberle, my heart and soul, was drilled by this pathetic excuse of a hockey player, and it was ugly. Kabby was knocked out cold and was taken off on a stretcher. It was a late hit, and an elbow, and there was no penalty on the play. That was the first thing that pissed me off. On top of that, nobody on the Leafs team said a word to Janssen about it. It was partly a good thing, because the Leafs could ill-afford to take stupid retaliation penalties in a big game, which last night was. But when your best defenseman gets knocked out cold on a dirty hit from a goon, someone's got to step up. It's Kabby after all. He's not exactly a physical presence out there.

It was revealed, however, that Darcy Tucker came out of the Leafs dressing room while Kabby was being attended to, and started jawing at Janssen from the tunnel. That, my friends, is exactly why Darcy Tucker is one of the most popular Maple Leafs. He steps up for his teammates. Stay classy, Darcy.

Janssen didn't play a shift after ravaging Kaberle. He played a total of 2.59 on the game. This guy is in the NHL? And he thinks he's a tough guy? What tough guy goes after Tomas Kaberle and devastates him with a late elbow? There should be none of this in hockey. It's a disgrace. I'm all for fighting in hockey - because when Iginla and Jason Smith go at it in the heat of battle, it's a beautiful thing - but the one-dimensional enforcer has got to go.

- Talk about an extremely improbable win, eh? Down Tomas Kaberle and down 2-0 going into the third period, the Leafs rally for three goals, on Martin Brodeur no less, to take the lead. They then blow the lead when New Jersey pulls Brodeur for the extra man, in typical Maple Leafs fashion. They then squander a 4 on 3 powerplay in overtime, and then score three goals in the shootout to win the game 4-3.

- If you saw the shootout, now you know why he's called "No Panic Yanic" Perreault. A phenomenal shootout goal that left my jaw on the floor. He faked the slapshot which got Brodeur on his knees and going to his right. Perreault dragged the puck across to his forehand, and just when it looked like there wasn't enough space left for him to shoot it past a sprawling Marty Brodeur, he put it top shelf where mommy hides the cookies! Not only was it a fantastic deke, it was clutch. Had he missed it, the game was over. No Panic, indeed. Perreault won the majority of his faceoffs on the night as well. Instant dividends for our dearest John Ferguson Jr.

- Huge two points in the standings against the Devils. But a costly win. A very costly win. Janssen's been suspended three games by the league, but that doesn't do any justice to Toronto, as Kabby's going to miss probably two weeks. He's got a concussion, and that's not surprising considering the way his head slammed into the boards. Damn you Cam Janssen, damn you.

- Another emotionless and uninspiring performance on home ice against the injured Buffalo Sabres. In two games on home ice this week against Buffalo, the Leafs were outscored 9-2 and just thoroughly outworked in every facet of the game. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the reason as to why the Leafs came out so flat tonight. It's unacceptable.

- Two guys who haven't been in the starting lineup for a long time were back in there tonight. Darcy Tucker was surprisingly in the lineup and J.S. Aubin, the forgotten man himself, actually got a start for the first time in two months. I wasn't expecting Tucker back for another couple of weeks, and figured it would give the Leafs a boost since Kabby was gone. But of course not, that would just be too logical. The Leafs are clearly like George Costanza - every instinct this team has which would seem to be correct, is always wrong.

Tucker saw limited duty on the 4th line and on the power play in the first two periods, but in the third, with the Leafs again down 2-0 and looking for a spark, he saw some more ice. He played just under 16 minutes on the night. It's great to have him back, and hopefully Tuesday he'll be on a line with someone other than the offensively challenged Travis Green.

Tucker's a warrior. I'm sure he's playing through some pain, but I'm sure he's been dying to get back onto the ice and help the team make the playoffs. I'm quite pleased that JFJ got his name on a contract for only $3 million per season. Tucker's worth a lot more than that, and I think even he knows it. A true blue Maple Leaf, that's what he is.

- Aubin played a decent game. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't very good either. He was pretty much just like Raycroft. Three goals a game. It's the standard, I guess. And once again, it just wasn't good enough. Raycroft will be back in there Tuesday night against Ovechkin and the Capitals. Another must win game on home ice. Grab some pine, again, J.S.

- In the absence of my main man Kabby, Ian White logged more than 26 minutes of ice time, and was on the number one power play. All I could think of when I saw the box score was HOLY ICE TIME BATMAN! That's way too much for Ian White. The Leafs once again employed the five defenseman strategy, as Waddy Belak was dressed as the sixth d-man, but only saw about five minutes of action. White's been great on the back end, for the most part, this year, but he's not capable of playing those minutes. He was a -2 on the evening, and that speaks volumes.

- I have to shout out Wade Belak, believe it or not. It's tough to do his job, but he does it, night in and night out. He's versatile and the fact that he can play both the wing and defense on any given night is a testament to that. Not many guys can do what he does. He comes in and only plays a few minutes every night, whether its on offence or defence, and he's physical. Yeah, he takes way too many penalties, but it takes a certain mental toughness and a professional attitude to do the job he does. He's supposedly really popular in the dressing room, and even I'm starting to appreciate what he does. He's our resident heavyweight, but he can play, and he's become a useful member of this team. And I like callin him Waddy.

- If the coaching staff doesn't have enough confidence in playing Belak 10-12 minutes a night as the sixth defenceman, which I understand because of his penchant to take the most bonehead penalties - Waddy, they took out the hooking and holding from the game. Yes, really! Like two years ago! - why doesn't management call up someone from the minors? Depth on defence is, as John Ferguson Jr. told the world, the strongest asset of the organization, so why the hell is Ian White playing 26 minutes a night? Call up Staffan Kronwall, or Jay Harrison.

What really pokes my brain is why the Leafs have never called up the captain of the Marlies, Marc Moro. He's been with the organization for a number of years now, and was team captain when they were still in St. Johns. What's the deal? The guy's a veteran and surely is capable of playing 10-12 minutes a night. He's a big fella too and would provide some more sandpaper to the back end, which is never a bad thing.

Don't tell me, Johnny boy, that Brendan Bell is expendable because the organization has got so many other young and able defenseman who are NHL-ready. If that's the case, call one of them up when two out of your top three defencemen - Kabby and Kubby - are injured! The Leafs are absolutely infuriating.

- I am utterly fed up of the booing of Bryan McCabe. I don't give a rats ass if anybody in this city thinks he is overpaid. Who cares? He got what was market value last summer, and without him, the Leafs would be in serious trouble. Yes, he's prone to turnovers and takes some questionable penalties, but he works hard. He's got almost 50 points and is a plus hockey player. When he's on the ice, the Leafs score more than they are scored upon. What else do you want for the guy? If the opinion is that he is overpaid, how about you take into consideration that guys like Tomas Kaberle and Darcy Tucker are underpaid? Let that balance it out. I'm just sick of the treatment this guy is getting, because it's not justified. He is not the god damn problem. In the third period tonight McCabe got clipped with a high stick and was bleeding profusely above his eye. He went to the bench for some quick repairs and was right back on the ice. He was rushing the puck from the Leafs zone with blood pouring down his face. Is that not heart, grit and determination right there? This guy wants to win, and in the process he does make some mistakes, but lets be reasonable here people. He's a great hockey player and I think the Leafs are lucky to have him. Stop booing Bryan McCabe.

- Even after losing three out of four games against Eastern Conference opponents this week, the Leafs still sit only two points behind the Carolina Tropical Storms for 8th place in the standings. Unbelievable. It was an immensely important week of games, and the Leafs did not fare well, yet still the playoffs are within reach. The back end of the Eastern Conference is rather mediocre, and that bodes well for Toronto, who are mediocre on their best nights.

Even Mats Sundin looked sluggish and tired in the games this week. I just don't know if he's got it in him to go on another crazy run like he did last year, and take the team to the playoffs. Astonishingly, the Leafs head into next week only two points out of the final playoff spot, just like they did last weekend. Someone can still step up and grab this team by throat. Mats is the most logical option, but I already got into the relationship between logic and the Leafs.

The road isn't getting easier. Washington is in town on Tuesday, and then a home-and-home with the Ottawa Senators. If Toronto drops the Washington contest, the Senators could potentially put the "nail in the coffin" on the Leafs' season, NBA Jam on Nintendo style.

And I'm sure there's nothing they'd love more.

Goodnight, Toronto...