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[Recap] Leafs 1 v. Devils 4: Soporific!

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The New Jersey Devils want to make hockey so boring that lifelong fans and players will want to quit watching the game. There, I said it. Don't tell me about how the Devils scored the second most goals in the NHL in 2000 (I think) because I am guessing that most came after the opposition had run a warm bath and slit open it's wrists in order to avoid having to try to work through a perfect trap anymore.

Last night's game turned on two events that have summed up the Leafs' season thus far. As penaltyshotsca pointed out, the first was the 3rd goal which came after the Dominic Moore turnover deep in the Devils' zone. There is definitely some blame to be put on Moore for being soft but to be fair he was turning and got hit just as he turned his back to the Devils' defender. That play though was a hallmark of the Leafs' season. The two Leafs (Wellwood and ?) were standing still waiting for something to happen and weren't open to a pass.

However, that wasn't the most frustrating thing about the play. Seeing a defender deal with a cycling forward by hammering him into the boards was a revelation. If you only watched the Leafs you would think that it was common practice to stand by and let the forwards cycle around the zone untouched. That refusal to take the body manifested itself (along with my hobby horse of the Leafs being unable to lift a stick to save their lives) on the second goal as Gionta (about 5' 2") was able to tap in a rebound as he stood beside Pavel Kubina (about 6'9"). A hard hit or a lifted stick would have prevented that goal but neither came.

To top it all off, after Moore was knocked down and the Devils broke down the ice, Ian White misplayed the passer on the 3 on 2 and allowed him an unfettered lane to the middle which allowed for a tap-in goal.

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It was a fun night out with the old man for the most part. Highlights of the game include:

  • The blow-up dolls playing hockey.

  • The high school kids being terrible at shootouts.

  • The guy mourning the retirement of Brett Favre in the Best Seats in the House next to our seats.

  • Swearing a lot in Spanish (at least until we realized that there were some other Spanish speakers nearby) at the Leafs.

  • Seeing Nik Antropov get a loud cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard after he scored. The last time the two of us went to a game it was his status as a healthy scratch that earned the cheers.

Here's a view from our seats

We are right beside the Best Seats in the House which allowed us to peek in on the Raptors' game during TV timeouts. They are terrible without Bosh. Unfortunately, the server was not as good looking as she has been on previous visits.

I managed to make a video of the starting line-ups' introduction. Listen carefully for who gets the biggest cheer:

After that bit of excitement the game fell into a familiar pattern. The Leafs picked up the puck in their end and flowed towards the New Jersey zone only to be turned back. The attacks resembled waves crashing on a rock only they didn't have the benefit of the thousands of years that those waves need to make a difference. When the Leafs did create chances they were invariably stoned by Martin Brodeur.

The Leafs did their best to try to create havoc in front of the net but even when Brodeur allowed any rebounds the Devils were first to the puck. One of the handful of times that the Leafs actually got to a rebound first Antropov buried his 24th of the season. The dump and chase game that the Leafs prefer was also negated by Brodeur's incredible puck-handling. Even when he screwed up he wasn't punished as Kyle Wellwood didn't have the speed of hands or strength to muscle the puck in after a giveaway. He couldn't even flip a puck past Brodeur on a powerplay just prior to the Devils 3rd goal. Toss in an almost breakaway in the third and it seemed that the fates were conspiring to give the most snake-bitten of Leafs every opportunity to play the hero. Unsurprisingly, he was unable to take his chances. Somewhat surprisingly his reaction to these failures wasn't what one would expect:

Having to endure the tediousness of potential rushes being repeatedly broken up I decided to investigate the Great Platinum Seats Mystery. It's generally accepted that the platinum seats fill up late because the monocle-wearing, dalmation fur coat wearing crowd prefer to discuss their stock options and vacations in Gstadt to hockey. Here are some pictures of rows of fans dressed up as empty seats probably in anticipation of some $3,000 a plate masque ball:

However, shortly after the first stoppage in play here are those same sections. I guess having to wait for your $12 St. Lawrence Canadian Bacon sandwich to be made and then run over through the snow by a 6 year old takes longer than one would imagine.

After a night in which none of the highlights came from the game (except for the Antro goal. Who kept saying he was awesome? Me, that's who) there are only a few things that can make you feel better about having just sat and watched your team find no answer to the Devils' suffocation of any attempt to play hockey: a drunken douchebag.

As I scanned the crowd in the third period I noticed a police officer pointing at a patron in what initially appeared to be a Team Canada Jersey (I just saw lots of red). I figured it was one of the cop's friends because there is no way he was at the game doing his job. Not after I saw three cops standing 30 feet away from a dozen scalpers standing around discussing the upcoming storm (not a fun walk home) instead of, you know, dishing out tickets and forcing MLSE to act on the contract on the back of their tickets:

The license granted by ticket will automaticall terminate if any term is breached. Ticket may not be offered for resale in any manner which would violate any law or regulation.

I wonder if maybe the officers had not had time to peruse Ontario's Ticket Speculation Act. It's only about 20 lines of text so maybe it's not that they are busy but they don't want to hammer poor scalpers with a $5,000 fine every time they try to sell a ticket. Of course, cops aren't supposed to be subjective with when they apply the laws of the land (says the guy that has been let go on a speeding ticket before) but that's a rant for another day. Back to our signalling officer.

Turns out that he was not trying to get his friend's attention but he was trying to do some actual work and he was kicking the fan out of the arena. The Leaf fans seemed a little excited so I figured that maybe it was a Devils' jersey that he was sporting. Regardless, our rogue fan was not leaving and the officer walked down to him and tried to grab his arm to get him up. That failed and he took the beer out of his hand (I was praying for him to throw it at the cop so that the cop would crack his skull) and began to put handcuffs on the delinquent fan. As he turned him around to place his arms behind his back I saw this:

What a loser. What you can't see in the picture is that the person he is yelling at was probably twelve years old along with the young kid you can see in the picture. So to recap, not only did he wear a Habs jersey to a game in which neither team was his own but he also got drunk enough to get kicked out and he topped it off by yelling at TWO children presumably for being at a game which featured their beloved Maple Leafs. Stay classy Habs fans!
Anyway, after that little bit of excitement and the dreariness of the game, this picture sums up the season perfectly:

Wake me up at the draft lottery.