The Leafs' Jekyll and Hyde season continued Tuesday night as they once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Actually, considering that the Leafs do not really feature a refined Dr. Jekyll-like game nor do they ever exhibit the Mr. Hyde-like tendency to violence a more apt comparison is that the Leafs seem to mirror the Goofus and Gallant comic strip from Highlights magazine. I am not sure if any of you remember that magazine but the comic always showed Goofus doing something wrong (ie a messy bedroom) as Gallant, that smug jerk, was doing the right thing (ie cleaning his room).
The Leafs have managed to combine both characters in their play of late. This season it has varied from game to game, hence their record of 1-6-1 after a victory, but it just as easily manifests itself within individual games as their record of 4-2-2 when leading after two periods attests. I even saw a joke by one of the mittenstringers that the Leafs sometimes seem so lost in the third period that they wouldn't be surprised if the players referred to the first two periods are 'halves'.
The hard work that built up the two-goal lead was wasted as first McCabe turned over the puck on the penalty kill behind his own net then the Leafs tight coverage allowed a three way passing play to finish into an open net and finally Toskala aided the mittenstringers' write their stories by allowing a softy in under his arm. All of that conspired to make Mats angry:
"We're trying to be a team that is a playoff team and playing like that is not going to do it. We have to get better, all of us," said downcast captain Mats Sundin, speaking after most of his teammates had slipped out of the Air Canada Centre.
"For some reason, every time we have a good effort, a good hard-working game, it seems like we can't for some reason continue that kind of play."
There was some hope as Brian Burke was spotted at the ACC:
There was little action on the ice through the first two periods. Most of the excitement was high above the ice in the press box. At one point early in the second period, Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke occupied a seat in the already crowded box of Leafs counterpart John Ferguson.
Sadly the Leafs were not tampering with the Ducks GM but he was in town to yell at the local media and excorciate Kevin Lowe at a speaking engagement. Just kidding, he didn't yell at the local media but he probably did the latter. That guy is bitter even though he likely got the first overall pick. Maybe he's pissed it's going to be in 2008 instead of Tavares in 2009.
Anyway, the Leafs' inability to either finish off the Bruins with a third goal or to defend competently in the third gifted a divisional opponent two points. McCabe seemed to be so satisfied with almost 5 periods worth of good hockey that he stopped playing well. Herpes was Herpes, irritating and without a cure in sight. And Toskala made the city's sports columnists' jobs easy:
For no other reason, a Leafs win might have kept the critics at bay, providing an argument that maybe, just maybe, Ferguson hadn't made a huge gaffe in trading Rask two summers ago.
The young Finn was considered by many to be the best goalie not in the NHL. He will now be remembered as the guy Ferguson relinquished to acquire Andrew Raycroft last season.
The implication there is that Rask will have a wonderful career spanning at least a dozen years in which he will be feted as a great goalie. All of that of course is based on one NHL win in which he was extremely suspect on both goals which were Raycroftian in nature.
No player of the game since the Leafs so frustrated me unless one of you wants to make a case for someone actually covering themselves in glory. The SPG results were: Shot - Tucker, Penalty - Sundin, Goal - McCabe and penaltyshotsca is on the board after he bravely picked McCabe to score the first goal of the game for the Leafs.