January 11, 2008

Rock Bottom

When Andrew Raycroft is in goal, anything is possible. Even a 5-2 spanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs by the worst team in the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings. If this isn't rock bottom, I'm not sure what is.

The Leafs, coming off a pathetic performance against the Anaheim Ducks, were just as bad, if not worse, last night. Their lack of resolve, fire, and competitiveness was humiliating. It was tough to be a Maple Leafs fan in that first period, when the Kings jumped out to a four-nothing lead.

Let's take a second to contemplate just how bad the LA Kings are. Going into last night's game the Kings were last in the NHL with 32 points, on 15 wins and two overtime losses. Their 15 losses on home ice is tops in the league. In other words, visiting teams love playing at the Staples Center. It's usually a cakewalk.

It certainly was last night. But for the Kings. By the time the first period was over the Leafs had been out-shot 11 to six and they were down 4-0. Jam done. Raycroft was, well, Raycroft (read: garbage). His rebound control was once again deplorable and the third goal by Frolov went right through him like the goaltending sieve he is. Raycroft was on the bench, where he belongs, to start the second period. While the team once again did not show up and clear any rebounds for him, Raycroft had to have been better last night. He needed to be at least half-decent, just so Vesa Toskala could rest his tender groin for Saturday night. But Raycroft couldn't even give Toskala one night off. This guy is so bad he doesn't even belong in the minors.

In another classic example of Maple Leafs incompetence, the Leafs yesterday afternoon returned goaltender Scott Clemmensen to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. They sent down the wrong guy. Idiots. After last night's performance, I truly hope Raycroft's career with the Toronto Maple Leafs is over. I can't take it anymore. The Leafs know he's a useless sack of shit, too. As Toronto Star sports columnist extraordinaire Damien Cox reported on Tuesday, the Leafs brain trust (not sure how much brain is involved, clearly not much) seriously contemplated giving Justin Pogge, the future, the start in goal last Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

It looks like the boys in the dressing room have become resigned to their fate, and are waiting for the axe to fall. Either on their coach, Paul Maurice, who it could be argued has lost this team, or a player. How else can you explain these poor performances? They are not showing up to play for Mo, or themselves, and are waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop.

If you take a look at the box score from last night's game you'll see that the Leafs actually out-shot LA 50-to-24. Los Angeles managed only 13 shots after the first period, and once Toskala was in the crease for Toronto to start the second period, the Leafs took to it to the Kings and outscored them two-to-one the rest of the contest. But, of course, it didn't matter. The game was decided in the first period. Thanks a bunch, Raycrap.

Richard Peddie, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president, is actually on this California road trip with Toronto, so he's had a front row seat to watch this freak show. Peddie is the moron who publicly said it was a mistake to hire John Ferguson Jr. Tell me something I don't know, douchebag. And fire someone, already! Preferably yourself.

It's onward to San Jose for a date with the Sharks on Saturday. Another beating, of that I have no doubt. Astonishingly, the Leafs are still only five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and that's not a good thing. Ferguson is going to be looking to save his ass in the next couple of weeks and if history is any indication, he'll swing a deal in order for the Leafs to make a run at the final playoff spot, when all Toronto should be worrying about these days is the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Like PPP at Pension Plan Puppets says, it's all about being the worst right now.

These are trying times for everyone, especially captain Mats Sundin. He fired 11 shots at the LA goal last night and is looking weary and tired from all the losing. It's like a disease, and it's spreading fast. Sundin needs to get out of Toronto. He doesn't deserve this. Not after his many years of faithful service. This is not the way his extraordinary Leafs career should be coming to a close. It hurts. The dream of Sundin winning the Stanley Cup in a Leafs uniform - a dream I have held so close to my heart for so many years - is dying a most painful death...