A thousand monkeys poking at a thousand typewriters might, given enough time, compose the complete works of Shakespeare, but not even such a diligent menagerie could ever script a crueler heartbreak than the one which befell the Toronto Maple Leafs this past Monday night. It was not exactly a tragedy and not exactly a comedy, but more of a vicious joke, as black as humor ever gets. The set-up: seven seasons outside the playoffs, an unexpected run of luck, a shocking comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, a 4-1 lead in the third period of game seven, a scrappy underdog team poised to do the unthinkable and make the second round over the bent backs of a feared League power. It was the beginning of a great, classic sports tale of the sort that could win over even the hardest haters. It was the opening to the story that might have made the Leafs, once more and against all odds, Canada’s team. The punch line: three Bruins goals in the last ten minutes, two of them at 6-on-5 in the final heated two, topped off with the overtime winner.
Such a comeback is virtually unheard of in hockey, which despite the speed of its pucks and players tends to be a low-scoring, defensive sport. A three-goal lead with ten minutes remaining is as close to insurmountable as a lead gets; according to one analyst’s calculations, one might expect to see a team in such a position lose a game seven once every 159 years- which makes sense, since it’s never happened even once before in the entire near-hundred years of the NHL. The Bruins victory, then, is not merely unexpected. It is the realization of something so improbable that it would have been considered functionally impossible, like the sun coming up in the West* or the seas turning yellow. It was like being kicked in the nuts by a unicorn.
Well, I noted a bit earlier this week that all was not sitting well amongst Leafs fans, and a few folks tried to express their displeasure with the state of the franchise by rooting on the one beacon of hope the city seems to have – the Toronto Blue Jays – at the Air Canada Centre.
I, of course, found this incredibly funny because there were some dark days earlier in this millennium at
the Skydome and “Go Leafs Go” chants were commonplace by idiots you wanted to pelt with beer cans. The fact Jays backers are now reciprocating is a little disappointing but well deserved if you’re the Leafs. These chants didn’t exactly go unnoticed either…
Crowd at Air Canada Centre: “Let’s Go Blue Jays!” (clap clap clap)
Apparently there were also jerseys thrown on the ice at this game and general volatility that hasn’t been seen in a while, waffle tossings not included. Yes, that’s right, not since waffles were tossed a whole one year ago. It’ll be fun to watch how things deteriorate further down the stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
In a year that has had sprinkles of bad goals from far away (*cough* Craig Anderson), Dustin Byfuglien chose to victimize a team that has fallen victim to pretty poor goaltending all season long (*cough* Vokoun and Neuvirth) in Washington.
With a crucial two points on the line that could potentially dictate the future of the division the NHL would love to pretend never existed (Southeast), Tomas Vokoun let in the one goal he absolutely could not let in tonight. He let in a slapshot from Byfuglien. From center ice. To tie the game. Sure, it was a bit of a screwball, but honestly.
I’m still clinging to my gut feeling that the Capitals are a team to be afraid of in the East – especially now that they’re buried under the radar – but goals like this are making it really hard to stick to my guns.
Ilya Bryzgalov caused quite a stir when he took his new found fame to new heights and announced that he would be riding the pine during the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers in favour of Sergei Bobrovsky. Now, the not-very-serious part of me wondered aloud what happens to all of that equipment Bryz got specially made for the game.
It’s obviously one thing if Bobrovsky’s equipment doesn’t get used because he’s a backup goalie. Marty Biron’s Winter Classic mask is fantastic but he hasn’t had a chance to wear it because he’s Marty Biron and this Henrik Lundqvist guy seems to run the show on Broadway. Bryzgalov not playing is a big deal because he’s a big deal and therefore him not being able to wear the equipment which was made for him is a big deal.
Well, Bryz recognizes this problem and he’ll be damned if he can’t play in his cool new stuff. As a result, he went out tonight AND… played in his new stuff. Indoors.
So, fighting is pretty up for debate these days, no? There’s obviously the question of the health risks, the fact it – strictly speaking – doesn’t add anything to the game, and a whole host of other reasons why people would like it gone. I get that. I enjoy a good scrap but I also hear a lot of reasons as to why it should be gone and I think, that makes a lot of sense too. Well, tonight’s Oilers-Wild game was clearly a vote for the “Keep Fighting” option in the poll.
Matt Kassian plays for the Minnesota Wild. You may not have known this because he A) is a fighter and B) plays for the Minnesota Wild who don’t get a ton of press. He’s a big guy who stands at 6-foot-4, 232 pounds. Tonight, he had a busy “Matt Kassian” type of night. Kassian played just 2:12. Kassian had a ten minute misconduct and two fights for 20 penalty minutes. Matt Kassian was named the first star.
It was the most hyped matchup of the night. Jaromir Jagr, the man who was once the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the bridge (in some ways) from Lemieux to Crosby, returned to take on his old team after passing on a possible Pittsburgh return just a few months ago. There have been loads of vitriol from Pens fans towards Jagr since. Backhand Shelf’s editor, Justin Bourne, summarized this nicely in a post earlier today – perhaps you’ve seen it:
Pittsburgh media were on high alert today, warning us outsiders of the boos and anger which will be directed squarely at Jagr. They weren’t far off, mind you. Everytime Jagr touched the puck it was a chorus of “booo” or “Booourns” depending on your taste in television. Well, Jagr showed them. Not only did the Flyers go into Pittsburgh and take a big two points from their cross-state rivals, Jagr scored a goal – unfortunately for the sake of this narrative, it wasn’t a game winner – and gave the old Jagr salute in Pittsburgh which we had become some accustomed to seeing while he wore the black and yellow for the Pens.