January 29, 2008

The Going Gets Even Tougher

The NHL All-Star game is, mercifully, behind us. The unofficial second half of the season and the mission to sneak into the playoffs begins in earnest for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. The injuries, however, continue to mount.

It is with great sadness that I tell you that The Poni Express will not be reaching its destination - 27 goals - this season. Alex Ponikarovsky, my boy, is out six weeks with a seperated shoulder thanks to a douche bag named Steve Eminger, who popped him from behind into the boards last week. Eminger got a two minute minor on the play (justice!)

The injury is another tough loss for the Leafs. Poni, with 13 goals on the season, was going to need a miracle to reach 27, but he will most certainly be missed. His 13 goals were third-best on the team, after all. I've still got crazy man-love for Poni - The Poni Express reached its destination two years in a row prior to this season - and wish him a speedy recovery.

The shoulder separation is the injury du jour for the MLSE Injury Plague these days. One night after Poni went down, both Alex Steen and call up Darryl Boyce, playing in his first NHL game, suffered separated shoulders. Steen, who was playing his best hockey since being put on the top line with Mats Sundin, will be out a minimum of two weeks, while Boyce is out indefinitely. The plague strikes again. It shows no mercy.

The good news going into tonight's matchup with the St. Louis Blues? Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo returns to the lineup, which means Andy Wozniewski will go to the press box (hurrah!). The bad news? It's only a matter of time - and a short one at that - until Colaiacovo is injured once more. He is cursed. I'll put the over/under at seven games. What do you think?

I'm also hoping that the all the injuries up front (Boyce, Steen, Poni, Bell) means Wade Belak will get back in the lineup. I kid you not. I actually want Belak in the lineup. In the two games before the all-star break, the Leafs were thrown around by the Capitals. Poni, Nik Antropov, and Ian White were all hit from behind by the Capitals, and Jason Blake was speared in the groin, and the Leafs did nothing about it. It was a sad display. Penalties were called on the hits from behind, but Toronto's pathetic power play was unable to respond.

This Leafs squad certainly lacks identity. Teams of years gone by were a lot closer knit, and the cohesiveness doesn't seem to be there this year. Guys are not sticking up for one another. Belak's the only one who won't watch idly when someone takes liberties with his teammates. You tell me, what makes more sense? Having Jiri Tlusty play five minutes on the fourth line, or having Wade Belak play those minutes, and scare the bejesus out of the opposition? Belak is the sherriff. He keeps people in check. I have a strong feeling he'll be in the lineup tonight, as Tlusty has been promoted to the top line.

The injury woes should also get Kyle Wellwood back in the Leafs lineup. He watched from the press box, again, last week, while John Pohl got some game action. Wellwood's demise has been difficult to swallow. I was bitching and moaning to a friend last week about where it all went so wrong with Kyle. Wellwood put up similar numbers in both the OHL and the AHL as Jason freakin' Spezza. They were even traded for each other in junior. Spezza is now a superstar, and Welly is in the press box? I blame the Leafs. Not just for Wellwood. For many things.

I've also got a bone to pick with one Damien Cox. He wrote a blog post last week shitting all over Darcy Tucker and the contract he signed last year.

Here's Cox: "Instead, Tucker has become almost a total non-factor, has six goals in 43 games and seems most intent on making sure people blame all these injuries he's supposed to have rather than him."

I don't know about you, but I have not once heard Tucker blame his struggles on any injury, so how is he "making sure" people blame his injuries on his lack of production? Tucker has rarely spoken to the media this season, and it has been just about everyone else saying that Tucker is playing with a bunch of injuries, including a busted knee.

It's not surprising. Cox loves to kick dirt on a player when he's down, and if said player is a Maple Leaf, even better. Cox is sick.

I leave you with a couple of videos. If you haven't seen puppetmaster Peddie mouthing Cliff Fletcher's intoduction speech at the presser last week, well, enjoy yourself. It's a doozy. Tune in at 4:55 of the clip and watch Peddie's lips as Fletcher speaks. Peddie is ridiculous. A douche bag, and an idiot.

The last video is courtesy of a friend who is spending a year teaching science to grade seven, eight, and nine students at Doha Academy in Qatar, out in the middle East. Check it out:

We can rest assured knowing they're not breeding terrorists out there at Doha Academy in Qatar. Instead, my buddy Dean is breeding Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

Pick your poison...


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