The Toronto Maple Leafs managed to let a 2-1 first intermission lead slip away to the Columbus Blue Jackets in what turned into a 3-2 loss. As has become a Christmas tradition, I took in the game with my sister and we're now 0-3. She may not get an invitation next year. I feel bad subjecting her to games like tonight's where the Leafs seemed to be more concerned with their New Year's Eve's plans than trying to win an eminently winnable game against a lackluster Blue Jackets squad. Other than the usual suspects, Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin, the Leafs' forwards were more sound and fury than results. Kris Versteeg did some good work along the boards but since he plays with John Mitchell and Colby "miss the net on a one-timer 5 feet out that should have tied the game" Armstrong it all came to naught.
The real culprits were the defencemen and Ron Wilson nailed it in his post-game presser:
"Tonight our D had a tough night ... handling pucks, mis-reading rushes and some pretty bad giveaways. We weren't moving the puck quickly and it slowed our offence down. As the game went on it kept getting harder and harder because we weren't moving pucks or getting back quickly enough and partners not supporting one another."
That's actually a pretty neat feature. The first comment there might not last long so I recommend reading it. I assume that's what 99% of the comments read right about now. The bounce on the second goal that victimised Francois Beauchemin was crippling. How a $250M arena can be allowed to have dashers that don't fit properly is beyond me but that lack of attention to detail is symptomatic of the post-lockout Leafs.
On a final note, it was galling to watch fans leave the game with five minutes left in a one goal game. Even more left with just over a minute left, the net empty, and a face-off in Columbus' end. I assume that those people leaving early aren't the ones that only get out to a game or two a year. Those are Brian Burke's 'base' - the season ticket holders - that have so little enthusiasm for the team that they would leave a winnable game well before the result was certain.
Super Important Real Final Note: Screw every single fan that booed Nik Antropov when he was shown as the highest scoring Leaf to wear a jersey in the 80s. As I said to all of them within earshot "if you're booing, you're an idiot."