March 09, 2008


I've got a math question for you: what does snowed in by another freak snowstorm plus a heartbreaking 2-1 Toronto Maple Leafs loss to the New Jersey Devils equal?

The answer, my friends, is alcohol. A little bit of
The Famous Grouse (respect Alz) followed by some good old Alexander Keith's. It sucked to be a Torontonian yesterday. On multiple levels.

The Maple Leafs season was on life support heading into last night's matchup with the Devils. Toronto's loss, combined with a Philly Flyers win, means the Leafs are eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with only 12 games to go. And the Flyers have a god damn game in hand.

The Leafs are taking their final breath. It's all but over, and only a formality now. I would have loved for the Leafs to prove all the douche bags out there wrong and go on a fairytale-like run, but they've got to pretty much run the table from here on out to really have a shot at making the post-season. The odds of that happening? About as good as me giving up The Famous Grouse - not bloody likely!

I hate Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. When the Leafs used to be a decent hockey club, it was the Devils and Brodeur whom the Leafs could never beat. These days, it's the same old story. The Devils, thanks to the exploits of Brodeur, beat the Leafs twice this week by a combined score of 6-2, and killed my dreams of the Leafs making the playoffs, illegitimate as they may have been.

New Jersey beat Toronto in all four meetings this season (Raycrap was in net for one of them, so they really only beat us three times). Brodeur was en fuego in the two games this week, stopping 83 of 85 shots the Leafs fired at him. What a bastard.

The Devils continue to be, well, the Devils. You would think they'd have taken a hit in the standings these last few years after losing Scott Stevens to retirement, Scott Niedermayer to Anaheim and Brian Rafalski to Detroit. Their defense is nothing like what it used to be, yet there they are in first place in the Eastern Conference, where they always seem to be. Jersey has only allowed an Eastern Conference low, and second-fewest overall, 159 goals against (Detroit's first in the league with 151). To compare, the Leafs have allowed 216 goals on the season, a startling 57 more than New Jersey. Your lesson for the the day? Defense wins championships. You're welcome.

Last night's game was a microcosm of the Leafs season. A hot goaltender, three goal posts, and a late goal in the third period to seal Toronto's fate. I know God has better and more important things to do (like get Barack Obama into the White House -
"Yes We Can!") but the Leafs could have used Him tonight. The Leafs outplayed the Devils in the first period and hit three goal posts behind Brodeur, but went into the intermission trailing 1-0. If one of those shots went off the post and in, it would have been a different hockey game.

But such is the life of a Leafs fan: should have, could have, would have. Didn't.

The Leafs tied up the game, as I knew they would, in the third period thanks to Mats Sundin. Who else? Sundin always scores the clutch goals when the team needs one. Since refusing to be traded, Sundin has been on a mission to get the Leafs to the playoffs. He's played inspiring hockey and was last week's NHL Star of the Week, but it just hasn't been enough. He can't do it alone. If only he had some support. *Sigh*

The Leafs and Devils were headed to overtime, or so I thought, until the Leafs fucked up again with just under a minute to play. It's no wonder they won't be going to the playoffs. I can't even remember how many times the Leafs have given games, and points, away in the final few minutes this season. It's appalling. I will, however, share some of the blame tonight with the referees. Zach Parise's second goal, the eventual game winner, shouldn't have counted. Jamie Langenbrunner, whom I loathe, interfered with Vesa Toskala when he jabbed him with his stick and pushed him into the net. Of course no penalty was called on the play, Parise banged in the loose disc with Toskala down and out, and the Leafs suffered another crushing and demoralizing defeat to effectively end their season.

I miss Leafs playoff hockey.
Truly, Madly, Deeply. Savage Garden type shit, man. It blows. Hockey's a game of inches, and all the inches this year have added up to one extremely frustrating season, and a whole lot of empty Alexander Keith's bottles.

After the game, Carlo Colaiacovo kept it real.

''It's going to be hard for a lot of us to sleep tonight. We let another one get away," he said.

My thoughts exactly...