January 31, 2009

The Raycrap Report Vol. 8: Walking on Sunshine...

Sorry mates. I wanted to write this post on Friday, but I was stuck up on cloud nine. I don't know about you, but in the aftermath of the beating the Maple Leafs laid on Andrew Raycroft, I was beaming. It just felt great to be alive.

Seven goals. On 30 shots. A truly Raycroftian performance. And I enjoyed every bloody minute of it.

I took in the festivities at a local establishment. I was hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst (read: I was drinking). Thankfully, in a 4-4 game, Raycroft did in the third period what he does best: suck.

Now, let's not kid ourselves. A goaltending duel the game most certainly was not. Raycroft made only 23 saves, while Vesa Toskala was whorishly bad as well, getting in front of only 16 of the 20 shots he faced.

But, like I wrote about in my previous post, Thursday night wasn't about the Vesa. He was awful (I think Cujo - Cujo! - could have stopped that Hejduk wraparound in the second period), but Raycroft was even sluttier.

Of course, as is the case when any team plays Raycrap, slumps were broken. Nik Antropov scored for the first time in 17 games, Mickey Grabs got off the snide after 12, and Matt Stajan scored his first goal in eight contests. Hell, even Jeff Finger got in on the act. And, don't look now, but Jason Blake, with another three points, is a point away from becoming Toronto's leading scorer this season.

Andrew Raycroft: the greatest slump-breaker in the game today. If only the Leafs could play against him more often.

Thanks to the Maple Leafs, Raycroft's goals against average now sits at 3.01, and his save percentage is back where it belongs, below the .900 threshold, at .895. Way to make me proud, boys. And way to get up for the big game, Andrew.

You know, Thursday night's game might have been the highlight of the season for me. By the time it was all said and done, I was in my happy place. So much so that I picked up the tab for the boys. It had to be done. It was a celebration - or rather, vindication - after all.

January 29, 2009

The Raycrap Report Vol. 7: We Meet Again...

Dear Andrew Raycroft,

I must admit, I love that picture. It's actually my new desktop background. It looks like you've been shot. If only I could be so lucky.

I kid, I kid. Calm down. I hate you, but that doesn't mean I wish a drive-by shooting upon you. I'm not a psycho, man.

So, tonight, we finally meet again. I won't lie; I've had this game circled on my calendar for some time.

As of this morning, I'm not sure if you'll actually be between the pipes tonight. It would be a shame if you're on the bench, but I wouldn't be surprised. You don't exactly come across as the most motivated cat, and that's one of your biggest problems. If I were you, I'd be on my knees begging to play tonight. I'd be desperate to prove to Leafs management, and prove to fans just like me, that you are not an epic failure of a goalie.

You know, Andrew, I don't hate many former Leafs. In fact, you're probably the only one. And I've often wondered why.

I think, deep down, it goes back to the end of the 2006/2007 season. You were pulled from the final, most important, game of the regular season, and the Leafs ended up missing the playoffs. Yet you had the nerve to tell everyone you were happy with your season. Happy with your 2.99 GAA and .894 save percentage.

I've never forgiven you for that. I likely never will.

You're a Belleville, Ontario boy, and were playing goal for the mother fucking Toronto Maple Leafs. You were living the dream. You should have taken it more seriously. You should have wanted it more. You should have been pissed off about missing the post-season.

You know, I feel a great sense of irony as I write this, because Vesa Toskala has turned into the goaltending equivalent of a dirty slut; he's turned into you. His numbers, frightening as they are, are actually worse than yours from 06/07. He looks apathetic in the crease, and every bad goal that goes past him is, well, just another bad goal that goes past him. It pains me how much he reminds me of you.

I've lost a lot of faith in Vesa this season. I don't think he's the goalie I thought he was. But tonight isn't about Vesa. It's about you. The Leafs can lose every game the rest of the way out, but I'll be happy as long as they win - as long as they beat you - tonight.

It's not even about revenge. It's about giving a damn. You never did. You bastard.

And my offer from weeks ago still stands: if you finish the season with better numbers than Toskala, that's it, I'm done, I'll never speak ill of you again.

You know, there haven't been a lot of games to get up for so far in this difficult and trying season, but tonight's one of them. I'll be rooting for my Leafs like it's a playoff game tonight.

Here's hoping you're in the crease, and that the red goal light behind you shatters from overuse.

Good luck. May the shitty goalie who least resembles a slut with an open five-hole win.

Go to hell,
eyebleaf

*This letter has been graciously cross-posted by my good friend PPP over at Pension Plan Puppets. Go there, and sign up for an account. It's one big, happy family group therapy session, and Maple Leafs blogging headquarters.

*UPDATE*

January 28, 2009

Podcast, Please

Are you excited about Toronto Blue Jays baseball yet? You should be. I am. So much so that I woke up early Wednesday morning, did some homework, and talked baseball with Stephen Amell over at Searching for '93.

My good friend Stephen was looking for some reasons to justify renewing his Jays' season ticket package, and graciously invited me to join him on his second podcast (his first podcast featured Toronto's favourite sports writer, Dave Feschuk). 

Now, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty sure I delivered. I mean, it's what I do.

Here's another link to the podcast. We're talking Blue Jays baseball, the origins of "eyebleaf" and Sports And The City, and some Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, or whatever it is the Leafs play these days. Have a listen. I'd love to know your thoughts. My segment gets going around the 35:00 mark.

And make sure you spend some time over at Searching for '93. Stephen's relatively new to the Toronto blogging scene, but he's already making his mark. He sheds a lot of light on the Toronto Raptors, whom I've managed to completely and disrespectfully ignore for the past month or so. He hates Jamario Moon, is coming around on my man Andrea Bargnani, and loves to get under the skin of RaptorBlog's Scott Carefoot. 

He's also working on lining up some huge guests for his podcasts. Obviously, he's going to have a tough go at getting a bigger guest than yours truly.

Yeah, right.

January 27, 2009

To Do List



Let me guess. You probably thought you'd never live to see a black president.

And that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would win the pennant last year.

Impossible is nothing. As a Toronto sports fan, and the writer of this here blog, I have no choice but to keep telling myself that.

Frankly, I'm fed up of being told that the Toronto Blue Jays' 2009 season is over before a pitch has been thrown, and a bat has been swung. I'm sick and tired of all the negativity.

It's January. There is absolutely no way my optimism for the upcoming baseball season can be crushed in January. Regardless of how brutal the off-season has been. I will not let it happen.

Blue Jays baseball: You gotta believe. Remember?

If you'd rather not believe, and would prefer to incessantly bitch about J.P. Ricciardi's Rogers-induced flaccid off-season, please, do me a solid: shut the fuck up.

*UPDATE*

My friend, rude-boy, loyal Sports And The City reader, and all-around ill cat, 40, provided a link in the comments section to the video below. Watch it. If it doesn't get you excited about 2009 Blue Jays baseball, you need to check yourself.





Believe...

January 26, 2009

Best. Picture. Ever.

Dear Tomas Kaberle,

I'm not sure what the fuck happened, and why that picture was taken. But I'm so glad it was. It's full of win. And your eyebrows.

Way to represent the Toronto Maple Leafs at the all-star game, Kabby. It might have been your last time doing so as a member of the blue and white.

If it was, no; thank you. Trust me, the pleasure was all mine, my friend.

My only wish is that, if you do go, you'll end up somewhere you'll be appreciated.

No matter what happens in the coming days, I'll never forget your cross-ice pass. You always made it. Like I wouldn't believe.

I love you, man.

Yours forever,
eyebleaf

January 23, 2009

Reminiscence...


I was only 10 years old at the time, but I'm quite certain Dougie Gilmour's 1992-1993 season was the finest, ever, by a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Looking back, there really was something special about Killer. The Leafs don't retire numbers, but I'd be surprised if anyone ever wears #93 in the blue and white again.

The Leafs enjoyed some great playoff runs during the Pat Quinn era. Those were good times. But Toronto's magical run in 1993, led by the warrior Gilmour, can truly be called "the good old days."

I miss those days.

Some good news...


God knows we fucking need it around these parts, eh.

Welcome home - officially - DeRo.

Playoffs!

January 22, 2009

Fantasy Hockey Fail

Honestly, nothing hurts quite like fucking up in fantasy hockey. It haunts you. A small piece of me dies each time I hear the name "Dennis Wideman."

Earlier this season I dropped Wideman, the steady Boston Bruins defenseman, from my fantasy hockey team. 

It gets worse. 

I dropped him for San Jose Sharks d-man Christian Ehrhoff.

I drafted Wideman. I felt like he was going to improve on his 36 point 2007/2008 season, and benefit from playing on a decent Boston team. Well, he certainly has.

I can't say I thought the Bruins would be this good. And while I was high on Wideman, I didn't think he'd be this good, either. But that doesn't make it any easier. He used to be mine. I let him go. Now I'm paying the price; sitting quietly by my window, and thinking about him.

In 45 games this season, Wideman has 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists), and is a whopping +26. Twenty of those points have come on the power play.

To make sure I was reminded how much of an idiot I am, Wideman scored last night against the Toronto Maple Sucks. It was a power play goal, of course.

And Ehrhoff? I dropped his ass. After starting the season with 16 points in twenty games, he's tallied a goal and two assists since November 22nd. Fuck Christian Ehrhoff.

I'm sitting in fourth place in my pool. There's a substantial amount of money to be won. Had I kept Wideman, I'd probably be in second, or close to it. Had I kept Wideman, and had Tomas Plekanec not morphed into a useless piece of Montreal Canadiens shit, I might even be challenging for first.

You live and learn, I guess. At least I now know what John Ferguson Jr. feels like.

Still, I need a drink.

January 21, 2009

Getting Nifty In The Clutch...


Nobody said it was easy...

But no one ever said tanking would be this hard to deal with, either.

I hate numbers. I like bullet points, but I really hate numbers. Especially the random ones below*, owned by our beloved, but defensively challenged, Toronto Maple Leafs:
  • 164 - Only the Atlanta Thrashers have allowed more goals (167). But we've got a game in hand. Fuck.
  • 3.48 - Teams that allow more than three goals a game are garbage. Period.
  • .533 - The Leafs' winning percentage when they score first. Twenty-seventh best (I'm trying to trick myself into being optimistic) in the NHL.
  • .393 - When the Leafs outshoot their opponent, they win only 39% of the time. Dead last in the league. And pathetic.
  • 6 - One goal game victories. Tied for last in the league. Suddenly, it feels like the Andrew Raycroft era all over again.
  • 13 - Losses by a margin of three goals or more. Suddenly, it feels like the Andrew Raycroft era all over again. But, hey, at least we're first in something. I guess.
  • 28.4 - Shots allowed by the Leafs per game. Actually, it's the sixth-best total in the league. It's a real shame the goaltending is ECHL-quality.
  • 101 - Goals allowed five-on-five. Twenty-ninth best. Want to know how good the Bruins are? They've allowed only 65.
  • 32 - Goals bagged by the Leafs in the first period. Twenty-eighth best!
  • 55 - Goals allowed in the first period. Worst in the league. It's a pleasure to see that Ron Wilson has his boys ready to play from the opening faceoff every night. Well done, coach.
  • 59 - Goals allowed in the second period. Worst in the league. Even worse than the opening 20 minutes. Jesus.
  • 73 - Goals allowed on home ice. Twenty-eighth best. Anyone else seeing a trend here?
  • 87 - Goals against on the road. Twenty-eighth best. At least we're consistent.
  • 23 - Power play goals allowed at home, and on the road. Like I said, this team is nothing if not consistent. Consistently garbage.
  • -10 - Tomas Kaberle's plus/minus rating this season. He's never been worse than  -8. In his career. Sadness.
  • .444 - Toronto's league-worst save percentage in the shootout. Shocking, I know.
  • 3.30 - Vesa Toskala's horrid goals against average. Slow start my ass.
  • .885 - Toskala's slutty save percentage. Close your legs. Please. I hate you right now, Vesa.
  • 73.7% - My favourite, the penalty kill success rate. I just threw up in my mouth.
This post was, arguably, the most painful I've written. Ever. Luckily for the both of us, I no longer acknowledge the existence of Curtis Joseph.

Unfortunately, there's still half a season to go. 

Yep, I'll see you at the bar.

*All the fucking brutal numbers are courtesy of NHL.com.

January 20, 2009

January 16, 2009

AttaBlake!

It's true; I drafted Jason Blake in my fantasy hockey league way back in September. You know why? Because I believed in the little guy. And he rewarded my faith in him last night. Yes, he most certainly did.

If Blake's five-point performance (a hat-trick and two assists) wasn't his way of telling former Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice to go fuck himself, I'm not sure how else he can get the point across. The two never really got along last season, and Blake now has 13 goals, only two less than he bagged in 82 games under Maurice's tutelage.

So, I wonder what the Blake haters are going to have to say today. Probably that 17% of #55's 29 points on the season came last night. But you know what? I don't give a shit. And you know why? Because the Leafs needed every one of those five points.

Hate him all you want, and complain about his salary until you're blue in the face. Be my guest. The hating, whether it's directed at Blake, or Mats Sundin, or Tomas Kaberle, kind of gets me off these days. The numbers don't lie, and Blake is on pace for a 25-goal and 56-point season. And at $4 million a year in today's NHL, that's exactly the type of performance you're going to get. 

Jason Blake is paid accordingly. Yeah, I said it.

If you're one of the people who gave Matt Stajan props for responding to a trip to the press box early on in the season, you owe Blake some of the same loving. He was in Ron Wilson's dog house for a while, but has responded as well as anyone could have expected, and good for him. Blake, if nothing else, has proven that he's a battler. And I can respect that.

For those of you who watched the game on the tube last night, yes, that is exactly how the Leafs drew it up. A blown four-nothing lead, you know, to get the tanking advocates all hot and bothered, and a five-point performance from one Jason Blake.

Hate Blake if you must. It's your constitutional right. But you can't deny that his performance yesterday was worthy of one tremendous fist pump.

January 15, 2009

Dear Paul Maurice,

What's up, Coach? Back in good old Raleigh, I see. It's always nice to see a bromance the likes of yours and Jimmy Rutherford's be rekindled.

Seriously, though, I wish you nothing but success your second time around down there. Shock the world and take that Hurricanes team to the Stanley Cup final once again. Just make sure you don't go through the Leafs to make it happen, asshole.

Wait. My apologies. I didn't mean to call you an asshole. It just happens to be a very sensitive subject for me. I mean, the Leafs lost the 2002 Eastern Conference final to Arturs Irbe.

Arturs. Mother. Fucking. Irbe. 

And Jeff O'Neill. Ugh. Let me get back on track here, before I start sobbing uncontrollably.

Look, Paul, I owe you an apology. I threw a lot of dirt on your name over the course of the last two years. I blamed you for a lot of what ailed the Toronto Maple Leafs, especially their issues in the defensive zone, and their penalty killing (I use the word "killing" lightly).

I'm sorry. It obviously wasn't your fault. Ron Wilson's Leafs have proven that you were, in fact, a penalty killing specialist. I'm sure Wilson would love for his team to be killing penalties at a 78% clip, like your Leafs did, instead of the disgraceful 73% he's got them coming in at.

Without you, Wilson's Leafs are allowing a frightening 3.44 goals a game. Good for 28th in the league, and substantially worse than your Leafs' 3.08 GAA last season, and 3.15 GAA in 06/07.

Jesus, Paul, I think I might actually miss you.

I now know that the Leafs' struggles during your two seasons at the helm weren't your fault. You just happened to be the scapegoat. And, the more I think about it, the more I'm sure that you probably hate Andrew Raycroft as much as I do. I sincerely hope you're enjoying The Raycrap Report, as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

I like you, Paul, even to this day. You're a great quote and, by all accounts, an amiable cat. I don't think you're a very good coach, but that's besides the point. You're back in Carolina now and who, other than Schultzy, really gives a shit about the Hurricanes? It's where you belong.

Good luck tonight, Coach. You and your boys probably won't need too much of it.

I hope there's no hard feelings. We, Leafs Nation, don't blame you. Not anymore. We blame John Ferguson Jr. And we always will.

Cheers,
eyebleaf

January 14, 2009

The Raycrap Report Vol. 6: The Streak's Over


Andrew Raycroft finally lost a game. His seven game winning streak is officially in the rear view mirror. The universe, clearly, is back to normal.

In typical Raycrap fashion, he blew a great opportunity for himself. All but ready to take over the bulk of the Avalanche goaltending duties from Peter Budaj, Raycroft was his Raycroftian self, allowing four goals on 27 shots in the loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I anticipate he'll be back on the bench on Thursday night when Colorado visits St. Louis.

Like I alluded to above, the universe is wise.

Dear Mikhail Grabovski,

What's good, my hot-headed, young Belarusian friend? Enjoying your time on the sidelines? I didn't think so.


Now, I'm writing this not to get all preachy and shit on you. You don't need to be told to never put your hands on an official again. I trust that you're a smart cat, and that you've learned your lesson.

What I am going to tell you is that the Leafs need you out there. Did you watch that game garbage last night? It was brutal. Seventeen shots? Fuck. Off. And Saturday night wasn't much better, 42 shots be damned.

There's zero offensive creation without you, Grabs. Let's be honest, there isn't much to begin with, but with you up in the press box things are about as quiet on the ice as inside Elliot Spitzer's bedroom. You know, since he got busted for palling around with that crazy expensive hooker.

You really should read the news, Mikhail. Or get Poni to translate it for you, or something.

Now don't get me wrong, I know the tank is on, but you and your teammates have proven that you're not about to solve that whole "goals against" problem anytime soon. So, if you're going to lose, I'd rather you at least score some goals in the process. You've just got to be in the lineup for that to happen. So no more suspensions, my friend.

And I know; Sergei Kostitsyn is a bitch. He'll get his. Don't worry about him. Like I said, lesson learned. 

I'll be honest: deep down, I like that you're one crazy mother fucker. But I need you to harness that energy. I need you on the ice.

See you on Friday, player.

Cheers,
eyebleaf

January 13, 2009

The Raycrap Report Vol. 5: An Apology, Maybe...

Sidney Crosby and his hapless Pittsburgh Penguins were the latest team to succumb to the goaltending force known as Andrew Raycroft, dropping a 5-3 decision on Saturday afternoon.

I figured the final nail in the coffin of Pens coach Michel Therrien, or "hockey dad" as he's lovingly called by my girl Lori over at Hockey, Football, and Stiletto Shoes, would have been a loss to the one and only Raycroft. But that wasn't the case. The Pens lost, Therrien's still got his job, and Raycroft continues to defy all logical, well, logic.

Raycroft's effort on Saturday was reminiscent of his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He stopped only 21 of 24 shots, but he won. Again. And wins are nice.

Now that he's won seven games in a row...

Sorry, I need a second. I can't believe I just wrote that.

...

OK. My apologies. Let's try this again. Yes, I did just take a shot of Wiser's

Now that he's won seven games in a row, it's looking more and more like our good pal Andrew may supplant Peter Budaj as the number one goalie in Denver. Raycroft will be between the pipes tonight in Columbus when the Avalanche visit the Blue Jackets.

I know, what a world.

What I don't know is what Raycroft, now sporting a 9-1 record and a .905 save percentage, wants from me. I don't really know why he's doing this to me. I mean, haven't us Leafs fans, and you know, fans of good goaltending, suffered enough? Raycroft's exploits remind me of Happy Gilmore, when he told Shooter McGavin, "Uh oh, Happy learned how to putt!" Suddenly, he's learned how to play goal again. Bastard. 

I'm at my wits end. How can I make fun of Raycroft when he's sporting solid numbers, and when the Leafs are easier in their own end than a couple of Jarvis St. hookers? I can't, dammit. I've become so disillusioned with Vesa Toskala and his whore-like five-hole to the point where I'm willing to offer Raycroft an apology...maybe.

If, by the end of the season, Raycroft's save percentage (.905) is still higher than Toskala's (.882, fuck!), I will offer Raycroft a full apology, and never, ever, talk smack about him again.

Basically, the ball is now firmly in Toskala's court. He's got half a season to pull up his God damn panties jock strap, and play with some pride. I mean, as a Leafs fan, I don't have much of anything. It would be a damn shame for me to lose "The Raycrap Report," as well.

Oh, and just to warn you, if Raycroft does in fact finish with a higher save percentage than Toskala, and Paul Maurice leads the Carolina Hurricanes to the playoffs, I'm going to need a hug, and a glass of booze, more than I've ever needed either before.

January 12, 2009

February 21st

The return of Mats Sundin. It's official: I'll be there, in the stands, in my #13 jersey, and on my feet in appreciation of the man, the legend.


What? No, I don't get tired of writing about Mats. But thanks for asking.

Tickets went on sale Saturday morning for next month's big game. Of course, attempts to score seats through Ticket-fucking-master were futile. I got up early for nothing.

But I've managed, thanks to one of the seven wonders of the internet, to find a pair of purples for $280. A ridiculous price, I know. But one I must pay.

I was there in Edmonton back in 2003, row one behind the glass, when Sundin scored the 1000th point of his career. I was in attendance at the ACC in October 2007, when Mats became the highest-scoring Toronto Maple Leaf, ever. And I'll be there when Mats returns. Much like the picture above, I will welcome him home with open arms.

$280? Mats is worth every penny.

January 11, 2009

NHL 94



Sometimes, late at night, I wish I still had my Super Nintendo. I mean, don't get me wrong, NHL 09 on the XBOX 360 is sublime, but NHL 94 might be the greatest hockey game ever made.

The body checking, the slapshots, and, oh, for the first time in hockey video games, the one-timers.

I made beautiful music with a number of teams:

Toronto Maple Leafs: Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, and Nikolai Borschevsky, with Dave Ellett running shit on the point. Enough said.

Chicago Blackhawks: Jeremy Roenick was an absolute force at centre ice; he could do it all. His slapshot might have been the game's best. As a youth, I developed a man-crush on J.R. solely because of NHL 94.

Quebec Nordiques: Ah, the good old Nordiques. Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Owen Nolan, with Steve Duchesne and Curtis Leschyshyn on the back end. The goaltending was weak, I think Stephane Fiset was the starter, but I always made sure to score a boat load of goals with the youthful Mats, whose NHL 94 slapshot rivaled Roenick's.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Kevin Stevens. Let me tell you, it was one-timer madness. And the rugged left winger Stevens was always good for a cheap wrap around goal when I needed one.

Good times.

And, for the record, I was, and still am, arguably the greatest to ever play NHL 94 on the SNES. If you've got the system and the game lying around, holla atcha boy, for old times' sake.

Well, well, well...

I could have sworn John Smoltz said he wanted to retire a member of the Atlanta Braves.

I could have sworn Smoltz said he loved the city of Atlanta, and that the Braves were the only Major League Baseball team he wanted to play for.

Smoltz was the face of the franchise down in the ATL. A 21-year Atlanta veteran, solid in the community, and known as one of baseball's stand-up guys.

Today, he's a member of the Boston Red Sox. I guess shit happened, and Smoltz changed his mind.

Imagine that.

January 09, 2009

The Raycrap Report Vol. 4: Is This Really Happening?

Is this all just a bad dream? Am I, perhaps, lost in the matrix? Is it really possible that Andrew Raycroft made 43 saves last night in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, owners of the second most prolific offence in the Western Conference?


Forty-three saves. A career high.

Six wins in a row. Tying a career high.


Seriously, though, I cannot believe how Raycrap's fortunes have turned. Think about it; Andrew Raycroft, 8-1, with a .908 save percentage. It's insane. My worst nightmare - Raycroft picking up the shattered pieces of his pathetic career - is coming true right before my very eyes.

To make matters worse, Vesa Toskala's five-hole, much like a cheap, dirty hooker, was once again open for business last night. Vesa, who allowed five goals on 21 shots and was pulled after 40 minutes, is really buying into the whole "Show me your V" marketing campaign from Versus.

The Maple Leafs went into action last night with the league's lowest save percentage, coming in at 87.7%. After yesterday's debacle at the hands of the Canadiens, that number is going to, unfathomably, go even lower.

You know what? Raycroft and Toskala are both sucking the life, and the fun, out of this whole "Raycrap Report" thing.

If it were socially acceptable to have a drink in the morning, I'd probably pour myself one today.

Instead, I think I'm going to stick to the orange juice sans vodka and head to work.

Happy fucking Friday.

January 08, 2009

Best Play-By-Play Call. Ever.



May-Day, indeed, Rick Jeanneret. I don't know about you, but I wish Brian Burke could trade a 6th rounder for the long-time Sabres play-by-play announcer.

Here's to the Brad May era in Toronto getting started with a good, old-fashioned ass kicking of les habitants.

Go Leafs Go.

*Update; 10:53 PM*

There was an ass kicking. It was good, and old-fashioned. 

Except we were on the receiving end.

The Habs are good. And I hate them. Especially the Kostitsyns. Both of them. Bastards.

Dear Mats Sundin,

It's tough to play in an NHL game after eight and a half months on the sidelines, isn't it? I know, you're used to your regular four month layoff (zing!). 


On a more serious note, it was great to see you again. You looked good. I've got to admit, though, it was a bit strange seeing you in that jersey. It just didn't look right. I'm sure, deep down, it didn't feel right for you either. But we'll both get used to it. Eventually. Together.

I guess Alain Vigneault was really trying to make you feel at home, sticking you between Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond. I guess he thinks that since you've played with shitty wingers, save Alex Mogilny, almost your entire career, there's no reason for that to change. Hopefully Vigneault will come to his bloody senses and at least have you lined up with Pavol Demitra on Friday.

All in all, it was an uneventful debut. It's going to take you a few games to find your legs, and your timing. But your new team won, and that's all that matters.

Things are alright here in Toronto, Mats. Don't worry about us. You focus on things in Van-City. I'm sure you're wondering why the hell we traded for Brad May. So am I. I'm beginning to think that May is, in fact, Brian Burke's illegitimate son.

Anyway, take it easy, buddy. I'll see you on February 21st.

Your boy for life,
eyebleaf

January 07, 2009

All Eyez On Mats


Admit it, you love the quasi 2Pac reference. Just admit it. Ah, go to hell.

Anyway, it's happening tonight. Sundin is lacing them up for the Vancouver Canucks, as they visit the house that Wayne Gretzky built. And you can colour me stupendously excited.

Speaking of Gretzky, you'll be able to find me at his fine Toronto restaurant and sports bar tonight. His lovely establishment will be broadcasting tonight's game. I'll be the guy in the Sundin jersey. A Leafs Sundin jersey, but a Sundin jersey nonetheless.

Now, make no mistake about it, I'm a Leafs fan. I have always been a Leafs fan, and I will always be a Leafs fan. Let no one ever - ever - tell you otherwise. But Mats holds a special place in my heart, and I'm rooting for him like I've never rooted for someone in another hockey jersey.

The Leafs are number one on in my books. I'm still hoping they might pull of a belated Festivus miracle and somehow sneak into the playoffs. But the Canucks, well, they're team 1A from here on out. I'm excited that come playoff time, with the Leafs likely on the golf course, I'll at least have a vested interest in this year's second season.

Do your thing, Mats. Make me proud.

The Raycrap Report Vol. 3: Dear Vesa Toskala,

No, Vesa, I didn't photoshop that picture. That is Andrew Raycroft making a glove save on Marty St. Louis. In a shootout, no less.

Raycroft won again last night, Vesa. No, I'm not fucking around. Check the box score, bro. That's seven wins for him this season. Yep, half as many as you have. And you've started 34 games compared to his nine.

You know what else? His 2.71 GAA blows your 3.27 out the frame. But fuck the goals against average. We all know it's the save percentage that really matters. Well, the news isn't good on that front either, my friend. Raycroft's sporting a .894 to your .885. Almost a full percentage point better than you.

No, Vesa, I don't want to hear it. I don't care if the Avalanche are scoring goals for him. In his last five games, Raycroft's allowed only 11 goals, and won them all. Where has that type of consistency been from you? Where, dammit?

This is tough for me, man. You have to know that. Here I am, the guy telling people not to boo Bryan McCabe, now comparing you to Andrew Raycroft, the one guy I hate with every fibre of my being.

You've let me down, Vesa. I've been one of your biggest supporters, and one of your ardent defenders. But how long can I carry on this charade? After 34 games this season with you between the pipes, I don't think I can say that you're a legitimate number one goalie. I'm sorry.

It makes me sick to my stomach that the Leafs are, once again, one of the worst defensive teams in the league. It makes me nauseous to see that the team is killing penalties at an absolutely unacceptable 73% success rate. As much as I complain about Ron Wilson not being able to change the defensive and penalty killing fortunes of this team, I know that a big part of those dastardly numbers are, well, weak goaltending. Like Will Smith said, "Yo fault."

Look, I'm not saying Raycroft is a number one goalie. Even my Dadima knows he's not. But I don't care how many more games you play than that rat bastard, your numbers, especially your save percentage, have to be better than his.

It's time to look in the mirror, my Finnish friend. If your groin is hurt, tell Ron Wilson you need some time, and let the God damn injury heal. There's no point trotting you out there every night if you're going to give us pathetic goaltending. I mean, we've got Curtis Joseph for that.

You were supposed to be one of the few bright spots on this team this season, Vesa. You were supposed to be one of our "assets." Half the season is in the books, and you're having the worst season of your career, bar none. It's time to start giving a damn.

With love,
eyebleaf

January 06, 2009

Save Your Boos

Bryan McCabe, now a Florida Panther, anticipates being booed by you, by us, the Toronto Maple Leafs faithful, in his return to the Air Canada Centre tonight. 

Let's prove him wrong.

Look, I know the McCabe chapter in Leafs history had a shitty ending, but no matter what you think of him today, how about we show him some love tonight. What do you say?

We had some good times. Eight years. Over 520 games in the blue and white; 523 to be exact. Even 50 playoff games, including one of our deepest runs. Seasons of 43, 53, 68, and 57 points. A Team Canada selection. The can-opener. Dude was good.

And don't you forget the beautiful music McCabe and Tomas Kaberle made together. They were a lovely tandem back there. My lasting memory of McCabe, own-goal be damned, is him one-timing a cross-ice pass from Kabby, served up on a pillow on the power play, into the back of the net.

McCabe's trade out of Toronto has worked out for both teams. He's logging a ton of minutes on the Panthers' blue line and has responded well, as anticipated, to the fact that no one gives a shit about hockey down in Miami.

Mike Van Ryn, whom Toronto received in return, of course, has arguably been the best Leafs defenceman when he's in the lineup. Unfortunately he just can't stay in the lineup, thanks to douchebags who hit from behind.

So, do me a solid and save your wrath. McCabe doesn't deserve it. Even during his darkest days in a Leafs uniform, no one could accuse #24 of not playing with passion, or not trying. By all accounts, McCabe tried too much; tried too hard. He wanted nothing more than to live up to the massive contract John Ferguson Jr., aka the Antichrist, gave him, and his career in Toronto ended because of that desire and what it did to his game.

In the end, in my zen-like hold-no-grudges fashion, I wish McCabe nothing but good luck and all the success in the world. I'm glad to see him succeeding in Florida, and here's hoping he gets a warm ovation from the crowd tonight. Here's hoping the fans remember the good times. There were plenty.

Save your boos for Raycroft.

January 05, 2009

Dear Pittsburgh Penguins,

Fire Michel Therrien.

Hire Pat Quinn. 

Trust me. He's, like, great with young players.

Alright, alright. Please. There, I said it. Now make the move. For the sake of my fantasy hockey team. I've got Sidney Crosby. Yeah, I know, I'd much rather have Ovechkin, too, but what the hell can you do? Anyway, four points from #87 in the last nine games just isn't going to cut it.

And please tell Cindy, err, Sidney to never fight, or whatever the fuck that was, again.

Thanks a lot.

Cheers,
eyebleaf

Fail

January 04, 2009

Why I love watching the World Juniors...


5.4 seconds left on the clock. Like Gord Miller said, "Can you believe it?"

Here's to five in a row.

Oh Canada, indeed.

January 02, 2009

Maybe It's For The Best...

I was planning on watching the Toronto Raptors game get spanked by the Houston Rockets tonight. The game, however, is being broadcast on TSN2.

As you're probably aware of by now, well-paying Rogers Cable customers like myself don't get TSN2. Can't get TSN2. So, I won't be watching Raptors basketball tonight.

A lot of people have voiced their displeasure with this whole Raptors, Rogers and TSN2 fiasco. Twenty eight percent of Raptors games are being carried on a network that Rogers Cable refuses to pick up. That's a substantial amount. There was even a protest a few days ago at the Rogers offices by, obviously, a very dedicated group of Raptors fans.

Which brings me to my point. Maybe it's a good thing Rogers Cable isn't picking up TSN2. Maybe the honest, hard-working folks down at Rogers Cable are finally, after taking so much of our hard-earned dollars, doing us a solid. Maybe, just maybe, not watching the sinking Raptors is a good thing.

Think about it. Do you really want to watch the Raptors blow another lead? Do you want to continue to pull your hair out over the fact that this team cannot rebound the God damn basketball, at either end of the floor? Do you really want to watch Will Soloman back up Jose Calderon at the point, while Roko Ukic sits on the bench? Do you want to watch Andrea Bargnani shoot 40.6% from the field? Do you really want to see Jermaine O'Neal back on the bench in street clothes because of his 67-year-old knee?

The Toronto Raptors are what they are, and that's a shitty basketball team. Scott Carefoot of RaptorBlog.com has, not surprisingly, thrown in the towel on the season. And there's still 50 games to play.

2008 was a tough year for the Raps. There's no reason to believe that 2009 is going to be any better.

One of my resolutions this year is to try and find the positive side of every situation. In that respect, Rogers' decision to not pick up TSN2 is good for my overall health, especially my blood pressure. Oh, and my kidneys and liver. After all, the less Raptors action I watch, the less alcohol I consume. 

I won't be watching the Raptors this evening. My Friday night will likely be more enjoyable as a result.

Thanks Rogers, I guess.

*UPDATE* 

The Raptors, of course, kicked ass, pounding the Rockets 94-73. Bargnani was huge, and the team built on a 10-point halftime lead instead of squandering it. Even Will Soloman contributed off the bench for an injured Jose Calderon.

Man, I wish I could have watched the game.

Thanks for nothing, Rogers.

January 01, 2009

Just because...

I haven't posted it in so long, and because my head hurts too much right now to write anything substantial.




That is, most definitely, the song of 2008. A big thank you goes out to Stephen Sinisi, whom I reached out to and personally thanked, for creating the masterpiece above. You made my year, Stephen. Thanks again.

Anyway, so long 2008. You were a miserable sports year.

Here's to 2009, and some PLAYOFFS! action. Any PLAYOFFS! action.

Cheers.