Tonight the Leafs head into the Phone Booth to face the Habs who are once again burning up the league pre-Christmas. Today's questions were put to the fine gentlemen, and I put that lightly since they are all lawyers, that comprise Four Habs Fans. They have done their level best to unite two Montreal institutions: Strippers and Hockey. They are truly doing the Lord's work.
1a. You guys are all lawyers and Habs fans right? so which one of you is Guy Bertrand? Seriously though, how do Habs fans feel about not only the fact that this gets brought up but that some parts of the media run with it as if it was actually an issue?
HF10: As an Ontario native, that sort of thing drives me f*king batty. It's people like Bertrand who a) make the rest of Canada crazy b) make it so no one wants to play in Montreal and c) give real Habs fans fits. He's clearly a disgruntled Nordiques fan and needs to go away.
Panger76: I don't know what controversy you are referring to.
HF29: Art. 2803 C.C.Q. [Ed.'s Note: Here's the text - A person wishing to assert a right shall prove the facts on which his claim is based. A person who alleges the nullity, modification or extinction of a right shall prove the facts on which he bases his allegation. Sounds like legalese for 'He is full of crap'.]
HF33: Can you ask me that question in French please? If not then don't waste my time. [Ed.'s Note: This is a trilingual blog but my French third is too busy reading L'Etranger, smoking cigarettes, and lamenting humanity's frailty]
1b. Last season the Habs were a fatally flawed (no even-strength scoring, ridiculously hot special teams and goaltending until Christmas) team that everyone could tell would come back to earth. How much did it hurt to crash back to earth after such a strong start in the last game of the year in the ACC against the Leafs after holding a 5-3 lead going into the 3rd period? And after another hot start when does 'the flu' kick in again to return things to normal?
HF10: Losing to the Leafs at any time sucks, especially in the manner they did. It isn't coming down to the final game this year because Toronto will be 20 points out and the Habs will be sitting pretty somewhere between 4 and 6. And this Habs team IS the norm; get used to it.
Panger76: Neither team made the playoffs in the end, and losing one game to the Leafs didn't do it alone in what was essentially, if not a rebuilding year then a transition year.(Leafs may not understand this concept as they are unfamiliar with replacing old, over paid unproductive players for younger, cheaper, more talented players.) The Leafs better pray for an epidemic to sweep though not only the Habs locker room but 13 other teams in the conference, cause that's the most likely scenario for the Leafs making the playoffs this year. [Ed.'s Note: If that's what it takes for a Conference championship Leaf fans will take it]
HF33: We all knew the team was playing with an over performing immune system. I kept on saying through their hot stretch that they would all eventually be felled by gastroenteritis.
2. Leafs fans will concede the 20th century to Habs fans 24-13 but since January 1, 2001 the Leafs have 18 wins, 8 losses, 8 ties (remember them?), and 4 OT/SO losses in 38 games. What is it about this millennium that has seen the Leafs have so much success against their Original Six brethren? Be specific so that the Leafs can try to copy it against the other 28 teams.
HF10: Well, you'll have to force the Canadiens to re-hire their worst ever coach/gm/president combo and you'll need to reproduce 10 to 12 years of abysmal drafts and boneheaded trades. Then you've got a recipe for success.
Panger76: 92 years versus 8. Seems like a completely fair comparison, especially in an era where the Leafs were playing with basically an unlimited payroll. And all those wins still didn't help the Leafs into the playoffs the last couple of seasons. [Ed.'s Note: That's a little bit revisionist considering the score was 14-13 at the time of the NHL's first wave of expansion. And I see your unlimited payroll and raise you one Harold Ballard. Basically over the last 3 years it's been a level playing field and the Leafs are winning ;)]
3. I, along with everyone else, thought that losing Souray would hurt your PP and improve your defence. While the latter has happened - the team can actually defend 5 on 5 this year (6th fewest goals allowed v. 23rd last year) - the PP is functioning at a ridiculous rate ( 30.9%). That's all gravy but without the man advantage the Habs can't score (26th in GF 5on5) and the PK is ranked 21st. When the powerplay inevitably slows down what black magic will the Habs use to win games if they can't score 5 on 5 and can't kill penalties?
HF10: Ghosts, 22,000 rabid fans, two brilliant goalies, and the shootout. On the road, we play for the 0-0.
Panger76: They become the Leafs. [Ed.'s Note: The Leafs can score 5 on 5 (1st in the NHL).]
HF29: Special invitations to Montreal strip clubs the night before games.
HF33: I thought we had agreed that there would be no math.
4. I know a couple of you Do you have any special memories of a particular Leafs-Habs matchups? Try to resist the urge to go back further than 1994.
HF10: So many memories, but I'll limit myself to two. December, 1986 and my Dad gets Leafs/Habs tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens for my birthday. Habs lay a beating on the Leafs, who at one point have six skaters on the ice during a power play early in the second period, can't score, and get whistled for too many men on the ice. Best. Birthday. Ever.
Last year, Souray, shootout. You know the one I mean.
Panger76: No, cause the Leafs were never involved in a Stanley Cup final in my lifetime.
HF33: The back to back home games in Montreal at the end of the 2005-2006 season. We outscored the Leafs like 47-4, swept the series and bought them their membership fees for Augusta. Ha, ha.
5. Predictions for the game?
HF10: I hope for a 15 goal Habs barrage that chases Toskala, then Raycroft, then Toskala again. It will probably end with the Leafs getting 13 powerplays, a goal off a deflection, a cheap one by someone named Woznewski or Battaglia and an empty netter to win 3-1 as Bob Cole and Harry Neale high five their way through the last 10 minutes and Don Cherry plans the parade route. Bastards. [Ed.'s Note: I see nothing wrong with any of that prediction.]
HF29: I will be drunk by the end of it.
HF33: Don Cherry will cross-dress as a Swedish female member of the socialist party and unveil his new homesexual friendly, European loving, pro-communist agenda before a speechless Ron Maclean. [Ed.'s Note: Not until the playoffs at least.]