October 24, 2008

Deep Thoughts Vol. 11: "Playoffs!" Edition

Are you impressed by the Toronto Maple Leafs yet? You should be. Especially after last night: a come-from-behind 4-2 victory against the Boston Bruins, in their barn. That's what the kids call a "character win."

You can colour me impressed. Yep, with the same crayons I'm using for the parade route. This team just doesn't quit, and you have to admire that.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's two games in a row where the Leafs have rallied from a two-nil deficit. On Tuesday night they took it to the Mighty Ducks, outshooting them 38-21. Last night they were all over the Bruins, outshooting them 37-28.

The finish may not be there, and the special teams may not be that good, but these guys compete. They're a spunky bunch and, as fans, that's all we can really ask for. A team that goes out every night and skates and plays hard. I've got to give Ron Wilson props for that.

How about Nik Antropov? He scored again last night, thanks to a beautiful feed from my man crush Alex Ponikarovsky, and now has four goals and two assists on the season. I don't think he misses Mats Sundin all that much. Me? I do. A lot.

Technically, with a 2-2-3 record, the Leafs are sitting at the .500 mark. Two regulation time losses in seven games. That's pretty good. Two wins? That's pretty bad. But, still, .500. Playoffs! Crazier things have happened. What, you don't think so? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in the World Series. The Tampa Bay mother fucking Devil Rays are in the World Series.

Ron Wilson

Wilson is serious about success when it comes to changing the culture that exists here in Toronto. Benching Matt Stajan? I'm all for it. Banishing Poni to the fourth line for a game? It seems to have sent a message. Sending Jason Blake to the press box? While I didn't necessarily agree with it, I'm hoping Blake turns it into a positive. As much as I love Blake - and I mainly love him because everyone else hates him - the Leafs did win without him. So, take that for what it's worth.

As for pulling Toskala in the shootout and replacing him with Cujo, no, after much consideration, I can't agree with that move. Please Ronny, don't do it again. Clearly, it doesn't work. 

As a goalie, I can't help but feel pissed off about the decision to replace Vesa. For 65 minutes, the Leafs lived and died by Toskala. Regardless of how Toskala has fared in the shootout in the past and, yes, I know he is the worst goalie in NHL shootout history, it was Vesa's game to win or lose. Period. We goalies are a fragile bunch, even the strongest of us, and you don't mess with a our confidence. Ever. I don't ever want to see that move made again, especially after the bitch slap the Ducks laid on Cujo.

Overall, though, crazy props to Coach Wilson. He's a rudey.

The Toronto St. Pats?

Another team in Toronto? It ain't happening. I mean, does this city really deserve another hockey team? I don't think so. We're good with one shitty one, we don't need another. How about we put a team back in Winnipeg first. Bring back the Jets.

More Tlusty

I want to see more of Jiri Tlusty. No, not like that, man. More of him on the ice. Jesus. Lusty Tlusty has seen only 11-to-14 minutes of ice time per game so far, and played a season low 7:31 yesterday. I'd like to see the kid out there a bit more, and even on the second power play unit. I mean, I'd rather see him out there than Stajan.

Leaf fans have got to be patient with Tlusty - I think I've convinced General Borschevsky - as he's in only his second season in the NHL, and first full season. But, if Wilson plans to waste Tlusty on the fourth line with Jamal Mayers and jackass Ryan Hollweg, perhaps Tlusty's development would be better served with the Toronto Marlies, where he can play 20 minutes a night in all situations.

Guess Who's Back?

Everyone's favourite former Captain, Mats Sundin. No matter what people try to tell you, it's news. It's definitely news. We're talking about the biggest free agent on the market. Sundin's going to begin working out as he prepares for a return to the greatest game on earth. Remember kids, no matter what PPP and Sean @ Down Goes Brown try to tell you, Sundin's done nothing wrong. Nothing.

I'm waiting, Mats. With open arms...


general borschevsky said...

You're hilarious. Spirit is everything.

Good to see Antro breakin' out.

Last night the Leafs simply outworked the Bruins, same as they did against Anahiem, except this time the third period had a sense of urgency. I liked that.

fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

That would suck if they put another team in Toronto. I totally agree with you, put a team somewhere else in Canada before putting another one in Toronto.

About the decisions our coach is making, they were the right moves. If people are being bitches and complaining I just turn my back because you obviously don't understand what's going on.

When the team is losing and it doesn't seem like something is going to happen, as in a win, the coach should/must do something to change it. So, changing lines, benching, switching goalies, or even wearing a jersey on the bench instead of a suit suits me fine.

I am just happy that Wilson is trying to win. I'd be more pissed if he just sat on his hands and just chewed his gum.

BTW, do you honestly think they will make the playoffs? I'm just happy the front office is putting in the young guys and re-building instead of doing some patch work like in years past.

The Ack said...

For the Bring back the Jets comment alone, if ever we cross paths, dude, beers for the night on me. Seriously.

MF37 said...

I don't think the playoff are happening, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.

The Leafs look like they'll be .500 all year - and that will put them a good 10 points out of 8th place.

If they deal off all their spare parts at the deadline, as everyone seems to believe (I'll believe it when I see it) they'll be playing the last 20 games with an AHL team.

Stranger things have happened, but the magic 8 ball says "outlook not so good"

eyebleaf said...

@ General: You're right, spirit is everything. I'm happy for Antro as well. If he came out slow, the "he's nothing without Sundin" bullshit arguments would have been out in full force by now.

@ Fantasy: "I'd be more pissed if he just sat on his hands and just chewed his gum." What, you mean like Paul Maurice? As for the playoffs, I know they are a pipe dream, the longest of long shots, but it's still early, so hope springs eternal in October and November. I said from the get go that this team will be better than people thought, but as for the playoffs, yeah, it likely won't happen, but I can dream.

@ The Ack: Winnipeg deserves a team. Phoenix? Fucking Phoenix? Winnipeg's got a pretty dope facility by all accounts, as well. And I'm going to take you up on your offer. Holla atcha boy when you're in Toronto.

@ MF37: Enthusiasm and ridiculous homerism, that's exactly what I'm about MF. You know how I roll. Who do you think are the prime candidates come trade deadline - Kaberle? Kubina? Antro? Who else? I can't imagine anybody taking Blake off our hands. And I'd rather we keep Kabby, and Antro. So perhaps there will be less change that we imagine...? And you're right, the outlook doesn't look good, but I'm sticking to "stranger things have happened." Let me enjoy my false reality for another month or so. Then I'll join the rest of you.

wrap around curl said...

So it's like that Journey song Open Arms? You and Mats?

eyebleaf said...

Absolutely, you know how I roll, wrap.

Actually, it's me, Mats and Tomas. I'm sure Tomas is waiting with open arms as well.

big tune

Lloyd the Barber said...

Every Ron Wilson press scrum brings us closer to him completely losing his mind. He's going to lose it one day, and it will be "the medias" fault.

eyebleaf said...

Lloyd, I'm actually looking forward to that day. Wilson seems like a pretty bad ass individual. It should be fun when he blows his top. I suspect it'll happen after one of those 7-1, 8-2 losses. We're due, it's been about two weeks since we got our asses kicked.

bkblades said...

As cool as the 'Peg City Jets are (were?), there's a better chance of a second team in Toronto than another revival in southern Manitoba. Sad as that is and arrogant as that sounds from a Toronto perspective, when the golden horseshoe region is as large and corporate rich as it is now, it's rather silly for NHL owners not to take advantage of guaranteed millions.

But you'll get no argument from me about Tlusty. I've been a big fan of his ever since he got drafted, and not even the naked pictures detracted me. Distracted, yes. But who hasn't taken a picture of themselves naked on their cellphone for an older lady? Show of hands? I thought so.

Dheeraj Vaswani said...

We need to start a bring back the Winnipeg JETS campaign.

JT said...

Good stuff as usual, eye.

I especially enjoy the hockey posts, seeing how I'm still a novice and all.

The Ack said...

@ eyebleaf....I will dude. I think I'm locked in on an annual trip to mecca (the 'Dome) now.

@ dheeraj, bkblades, etc: www.jetsowner.com, or www.manitobamythbusters.com

...I'm not "affiliated" with these sites or anything, just good reads to counter the negative propoganda against a return to the 'Peg.

Marvelous Win said...

I was thinking you are singing the creed song arms wide open...did you know that song is about god... mats is like god... i think Ron almost lost it a couple of times already... i remember, the one where he was like do you understand pre season... i think i should take up supporting the new toronto team, the toronto RIM jobs, that would be sick we can yell at each other everytime they play... good times

bkblades said...

@ ack: I don't doubt the 'Peg is much more viable than it has been when the NHL decided to rip apart a rich hockey tradition all those years ago. I was just merely pointing out that it's just as patently ridiculous to believe that the Golden Horseshoe region somehow doesn't "deserve" another hockey team when it is pretty plain and clear to see that no other region in Canada can boast the population, corporate dollars, and inherent, nearly insatiable yearning for another professional hockey team.

When it comes down to it, the NHL is all about money. And as much money as the other parts of Canada have, there's no ignoring the millions of relatively untapped resources in southwestern Ontario. Do I think there's going to be another franchise near Toronto? I'm certainly not holding my breath. But it has nothing to do with economy, but all to do with MLSE's territorial rights.

eyebleaf said...

@ bkblades: You know, you're right about the Golden Horseshoe market. It's viable, and it makes complete sense. They should take the Coyotes out of the God damn desert and put 'em back in Winnipeg, and take the Thrashers out of hockey purgatory (Atlanta) and put them in Southern Ontario. Kitchener-Waterloo? Sure. Hamilton? I'm reluctant, but sure. Anywhere in Canada makes more sense than Phoenix and Atlanta. I would just like to see Winnipeg get their team back.

As for Tlusty, fuck, I was right. He's a Marlie.

@ Dheeraj: As The Ack pointed out, we're like years late to the bring back the Jets campaign. But new voices never hurt.

@ JT: Cheers, brother. And make sure you vote Obama on the 4th.

@ The Ack: We def. should. Get the Tao out here over from the East, you from the West, and beers as far as the eye can see.

@ Marvelous: You're right, Mats is God. Perhaps God is enjoying watching these Leafs, and is envisioning his return. Resurrection, yo! And if the GTA did ever get a new team, I would never, ever support it. That's like a Yankees fan supporting the Mets. Can't be done.

@ bkblades: The NHLs about money, it just doesn't make money.

bkblades said...

The NHLs about money, it just doesn't make money.

I'll add to this: Canada's NHL teams make money. Well, until the Canadian dollar hits 70 cents, then we'll be right back to square one of the lockout era.

The Raptors and Blue Jays look to be the only constants in this city. Oh, and the Argos (if you try to ignore the shit season they just had).