Chemmy would like you to listen to this song to understand the post title. Unfortunately, Smashing Pumpkins doesn't like having their music embedded.
The Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back from a pantsing in Boston on Saturday to beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-2. They were paced by two goals by Alexei Ponikarovsky, a strong performance by Matt Stajan, and competent, nay, outstanding at times, goaltending by Vesa Toskala. Re-read that if you have to in order to believe it but there it is.
The Toronto Maple Leafs knew that they had to do something special. First, they knew that Puck Daddy was going to be in the building being afraid of King Clancy after a day spent visiting all of the city's sights. He also did his best Don Cherry impression: YER PATHETIC!! Could have used Jeff Marek standing beside him terrified and perplexed. Secondly, they likely (despite all protests to the contrary) read this abortion of an article by Mark Zwolinski featuring his best Working Class Howard impression:
Even though they are fully aware of it, the Leafs received another reminder yesterday of how fortunate they are to play in a city where no matter how poorly they perform, there's always a love-in waiting for them when they return home.
And that was the first sentence/paragraph/whatever journalists write since they stopped writing in proper English! Now, I know ad hominem attacks aren't the way to make your point but...come on, is Zwolinski an idiot? The love-in? Is this by the fans that spent so much time booing the team that JFJ actually got fired, that McCabe got run out of town, that Tucker and Raycroft were bought out, that reporters have commented on what a poisoned atmosphere the ACC has become? Really? Where are Amy Pohler and Seth Myers when I need them!And because I can't let a mention of 'idiot' and Working Class Howard go without a proper mention here were the two records that the teams sported before tonight: Leafs at home: 2-7-3 Thrashers on the road: 9-2-1. What would those figures have told you before the game? That the Thrashers were likely to win the game. Well, that's not what Mensa Berger had in mind. His view was that 'something's got to give'. Sure Howie. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he could have been saying that the Leafs aren't this bad and the Thrashers aren't that good but knowing WCH who thinks that that was his point?
The first period was a whole lot of frustrating as the Leafs directed 30 pucks in the direction of the Thrashers' net only to see 20 get blocked or miss the net completely. Most notably, on a long 5-on-3 the Leafs managed to look completely toothless. Luckily for them, Toskala kept out all nine of Atlanta's shots. Every time I write that I have to check the scoresheet to make sure it's real.
The second period can best be described with a short anecdote. Godd Till, of Zambonic Youth fame, and I frequently chat about soccer, our old high school, whose hometown is worse (Cobourg came out strong but was trumped by Peterborough's NSFW late effort), and simulate British football commentary when we rip on right-wing extremists on Twitter. For the unitiated, that means writing hilarious overwrought and ridiculous things but our all-time favourite word is the only one that could describe the second period: Rampant. The Toronto Maple Leafs, for one of the few times this year, were well and truly rampant. One might have referred to 'champagne hockey' and 'the gulf in class' being tangible. Leading the stampede was Alexei Ponikarovsky although he had plenty of help from Matt Stajan (on pace for 26 goals), Lee Stempniak (on pace for 21 goals), and Mikhail Grabovski (on pace for 17 murdered pineapples).
That left the ACC crowd in ecstasy (sorry, still in Brit commenter-mode) as the home side ran up a 5-0 lead. Of course, that led to the mention by everyone that Vesa Toskala could pick up a shutout. People were angry, irate, and...crazy. Jinxes are superstitions. We can't control it. If people want to flout accepted societal norms and mention shutouts all willy nilly well...that kind of thinking is what gave us the current sexually equal generation of women so who's to say it's wrong? In the end, people just had to remember that a. the Leafs get ridiculously pleased with a good two period effort and b. Vesa Toskala was in net.
So for those keeping track at home, while the mittenstringers have been calling for Ron Wilson's head and people have been saying things like "The Leafs would have to win 6 out of every 10 games AND get an OT loss in there 6 times to make the playoffs!" the Maple Leafs have been picking up 6 wins and an OT/SO loss in their last 9 (6-2-1). Hmmm. Look at that. The Maple Leafs are not entirely out of the playoff picture. Weird. Because Damien Cox told us to abandon all hope and all we've been getting is an endless litany of Taylor Hall jokes. Sure, things look better if you take Ron Wilson's advice and read the standings upside down (PRESIDENT'S TROPHY!!1) but there's a lot of time to make them look, if not good, then at least acceptable.