March 28, 2008

Eliminated

I come to you today a broken man. It's over. Officially. The Maple Leafs have been eliminated from playoff contention. We didn't even make it to April. For the first time in 80 years, Toronto will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. Hold me...

There's not much to say, really. The writing had been on the wall for months. It still hurts though, because the Leafs put together a decent stretch of hockey and had the Bruins within their grasp going into the two-game set with Boston. It wasn't to be, however. Once again for the Leafs it was too little, too late.

There's going to be a lot of people shitting on the Leafs today and in the next couple of days. You're going to hear the "Golf Leafs Golf" bullshit, and a lot of Sundin bashing, from a lot of different people in a lot of different places. So I'll let others shit on the team. I won't do it. At least not right now. Instead, I hope the Leafs hold their heads high. It was a tough season. But I'm here for both the good and the bad, and I'm not going anywhere. It will be these last three seasons that I will appreciate the most when the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

Back to last night. Sundin and Antropov returned to the lineup, but it wasn't enough. I'll give Mats some props, because it was obvious he wasn't 100%. He still gave it his best shot, and picked up an assist on the night. The Leafs, who had been playing decent defensive hockey of late, allowed 10 goals in two games to Boston. That, right there, sealed their fate.

It was a 1-1 game to start the third period last night, but then it all went to hell. Fitting how it happened, actually. The Leafs were done in first by the stripes, who blew an offside call on Phil Kessel's goal that put Boston up for good. It was ridiculous how far offside Kessel actually was. Only against Toronto can a call like that be missed. Only against Toronto.

Then Ian White took a bonehead hooking penalty and Boston cashed in on the power play to make it 3-1, and lights out. The final nail was dug into the coffin on the penalty kill, something the Leafs struggled tremendously with all season.

For good measure, Pavel Kubina brought Toronto within one and kept the dream alive for, oh, about another 20 seconds. That's when Boston's Peter Schaefer scored to make it 4-2. The puck deflected beautifully off of Jason Blake's stick and into the top corner over Vesa Toskala's shoulder. If only Blake could have scored more of those types of goals on the other net.

Thank God the Boston fans didn't serenade the Leafs with the dreaded "na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye!" song because, honestly, I don't think I would have been able to deal with that.

One thing I must say is that in the two most important games of the season, Tuesday and last night, Bryan McCabe did not show up. Worse than that, he played atrocious. I still don't know what he was doing on the Murray power play goal that sealed the deal for Boston.

You know, I've been a McCabe supporter during all of his struggles. I've always been in his corner. But I think I have reached my tipping point. If there is a team out there that is willing to take McCabe off our hands this off-season, the Leafs must take the offer. At this point, in my emotional state, I don't really care what it is. If the stretch run proved anything it's that Pavel Kubina is a better defenceman, both offensively and defensively, than McCabe. Kubina, with his booming shot, resurrected the dormant Leafs power play after he was put on the top unit with Kaberle. I'd rather the Leafs keep Kubina in a Toronto uniform, and move McCabe. Bryan's been a dedicated Maple Leaf since he joined the team back in 2000, but I think it's time to move on. There, I said it.

Vesa Toskala, get some rest bro. You were phenomenal. Yeomen-like work, straight up. What a goalie. Love that guy.

In all honesty, I hope the Leafs call up Justin Pogge for the final four games on the schedule. Andrew Raycroft is not going to be a part of this hockey team going forward (thank God), so there's no need for him to play. If Pogge is the future, and he most certainly has been pegged that, let's put him in there and see what he can do. The remaining games mean absolutely nothing and are the perfect opportunity to get Pogge some NHL experience before the AHL playoffs. Do it, Fletch.

These will also be Paul Maurice's final four games as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I feel for him, I truly do, because he's such a nice guy. He's always been a great quote. I wanted him to succeed, especially because this was his dream job. It's a shame it hasn't worked out but, like McCabe, the Leafs must move in another direction.

As for Mats Sundin's future, who, other than Mats himself, really knows? I don't want to think about it. Not right now at least. I cried myself to sleep in the fetal position last night, wondering if he's going to retire or sign with another team and, man, I'm just emotionally drained right now.

It feels like its been years since I last watched a Leafs playoff game. Probably because it has. 2004. Four years ago. Jesus. I miss it. I miss it so bad.

The dream of winning a Stanley Cup with Mats Sundin, if he moves on or retires, may have died for good last night. It hasn't sunk in yet. Probably won't for a while. But on that note, I leave you with a little something poetic, from my favourite MC Talib Kweli, from the track "Everything Man" off his latest album, Eardrum:

"Yo, what becomes of a dream deferred,
That never makes it to the world to be seen or heard,
Do it breathe?
Do it got a heart beat?
Is it alive?
Do it leave, only to become a star in the sky...?"

6 comments:

Culinarian said...

There have been many a night "crying in the fetal position", thats for sure. I think the curse of Frank Rivers has set in, as we are yet to see a Leafs playoff game on the Glen of the High (I Think)...I think we need to "abringitback".
Toodles to Maurice, Raypop, Macababy, even Tucks.
I hope we lose the last 5 games, and take a run at drafting some future D men. But we wont. We'll win them all.

Fitting quote at the end.
Props

Culinarian said...

I think you are right. The sign, of course, is in Blue and White also...that may have something to do with it. While you're at it, I think I may need to bring the Tempo/Topaz back to life and park her up on the side of your driveway. I'll do anything at this point. Whats the status of Mini Mats?

Preet said...

Yo. I hear you. A friend of mine has tickets to saturdays toronto/habs game. I'm going... even though the game means nothing now, i'm going. I hope they play Mats. It May be the last time I see him in a leafs jersey.

Culinarian said...

NEVER! Mats will never wear another colour other than blue and white, trust it.

Preet said...

Just got home. I friggin loved tonight. Navin I have a picture for you of Raycrap sitting on the bench with his hat on.

Watching Vesa play 'in real life' is just a thing of beauty. It's like falling in love all over again.

longge said...

When UGGS has swept this country, again what do you abrasion with UGG Boot ?