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."
October 24, 2008
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.
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.
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...