You can almost predict a Habs-Leafs game beforehand by filling in an easy script:
The Leafs dominated the Habs last night, outshooting them (insert big number) to (insert significantly smaller number) but (insert Habs' goalie's name) stood tall in the face of the onslaught to help (get the game to overtime/a shootout/keep the game close).
The Habs' powerplay was the difference as they went (insert big number) for (insert slightly larger number). On the other side the Leafs' (struggling/anemic) powerplay went 0 for (some painful number).
In the end it was (goaltending/shootout/defensive lapses) that cost the Leafs a chance at two points as the Habs once again stole a pair of points that they had no business picking up.
How predictable is that blurb? Well I didn't even watch most of the game because of family responsibilities but I would have been spot on. These matchups expose the realities of both teams.
The Habs are exactly as I described in the 5 questions: A glorified special teams squad with good goaltending that does consist of four fourth lines at even strength. A 16 shot gap might not seem that large considering the game went to overtime but here are the shot totals by period: 6-17, 15-13, 6-15, 3-1. The Leafs only had four powerplays compared to the Habs five. Try to guess in which period they had four of them?
As for the Leafs, they are a team that can only win by working their tails off and frequently that is not enough. The mental side of their game lets them down far too often as evidenced by Gui Latendresse, the most overrated francophone player in hockey history, being allowed to park himself in front of the net to hammer home a rebound. Or McCabe's useless slide before Kovalev's second. Why do the Leafs have a goalie if McCabe is going to dive in front of shots in the slot. All he succeeded in doing was leave Kovalev wide open since he didn't even take away the pass! HOCKEY 101 CHAMP! And the team's offence once again let them down. Why do the Leafs suck in shootouts? Because they rarely score through skill. The Leafs' offence is predicated on traffic and crashing the net for rebounds. Unfortunately, shootouts are one on one.
There's a saying that my dad and I use for moral victories, which includes the level of effort that was seen in last night's game, jugaron como nunca, perdieron como siempre. They played like never before but lost like always. Forget The Passion That Unites Us All (and that 'all' is a topic for another day. Who taught these guys English?) that's the Leafs slogan.
Last night's SPG winners were: Shot - Bell, Penalty - Belak, Goal - Tucker. Belak playing was a real spanner since he probably would have been a pretty good choice considering his occupation (mindless goon). Vote for Player of the Game but I just picked players based on stats so if you think someone else is worthy make a case in the comments and let people vote.
Who was the Leafs' Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Mats Sundin (tying goal with 18 seconds left and 400th as a Leaf)
Jason Blake (two more assists and lots of effort)
Chad Kilger (one highlight reel goal)
JFJ (Looked like he was doing something in the press box)