The Toronto Maple Leafs, in a way that sometimes it seems only they can muster, threw away a 3-0 first period lead as they fell 5-3 to the Vancouver Canucks. The quote in the post title comes directly from Ron Wilson and there's no denying it. The full press conference is posted below and I recommend listening to it. That quotation came in response to a question about whether he felt that the Leafs were snakebitten or cursed or if it was karma. The sixth best team in the NHL beat the 29th best team (or the second worst if you want to be a dick about it) and that's what should happen.
The frustrating thing, as was discussed in the post-game thread, was that the Leafs actually jumped on a team to start and seemed to be doing a lot of things right in the first period. All of that went out the window during the second and third periods. The Leafs missed a couple of chances to make it 4-0 most crucially the Niklas Hagman almost breakaway that Alex Edler broke up. Once the short-handed goal was scored you knew that it was just a matter of time. As much fun as it was to see Roberto Luongo on the bench with a baseball cap on it was one hundred times worse to see Andrew Raycroft yukking it up at the end of the game. The fact that he was so happy that he stepped in and stopped 13 almost uniformly harmless shots while the team across from him collapsed summed up perfectly why he is basically earning the league minimum and why his starter basically won't allow him to play.
At the end of the day, the game just cemented the same issues. Jamal Mayers scored and then allowed the game winner because of a lazy backcheck. Vesa Toskala played well through most of two periods and then he allowed a classic "through Toskala" goal for the game winner. The Leafs built up a lead playing aggressive hockey and then sat back only to watch it get away from them.
I hate Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously there is the regular reason that he was a very important player for a team I hated that scored irritatingly timely goals. But what really drove me wild was that he was so damn good and he still felt the need to cheat. The dives and the crying were never needed because he was already on a much higher plane than the majority of the league. Now, it's not that Alexandre Burrows is the Cristiano Ronaldo of hockey in terms of skill but he certainly doesn't need to keep up his antics. I know it's hard for Canucks fans to admit it but the reaction to his accusations were met with skepticism in large part because of his well-deserved reputation. Tonight even had a great example in the first period. He skated past Francois Beauchemin, basically slewfoot him, and then when Beauchemin bumped him he flailed his arm and dropped his stick to draw a penalty.
However, there is clearly a tonne of skill present. Defensively he looked very sound especially with the Leafs' goalie out. Clearly his short-handed goal was another instance but it also showed just how fast he can skate. The most shocking thing though was when they showed how many goals he had scored while playing with both Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. In 68 games he has scored 40 goals. Read that again because it's a stunning number. It really emphasises the fact that he can leave the Sean Avery act now. He's a very good player. To put that number into perspective, only eight players scored that many goals last season and only 10 the year before. Here's the kicker: he's signed for $2M a year for the next three seasons. He's also lucky to be paired with two of the best players in the NHL. The post-game thread says it all.
The Leafs' young gun, Phil Kessel, potted two in the first five minutes to get him to 17 on the year and 44th in the charts although at that rate he'd be 20th with 21 if he had played all 55 games. The good thing on the second was seeing him get away from the half boards on the power play. Rather than being stuck in a safe situation for the penalty killers the team should be building the play up top or along the opposite boards and looking to Kessel as the finisher.
The final irony of the game was that the Vancouver Canucks, who had so much to say about Stephan Auger, benefitted from some very shoddy reffing. It didn't decide the game but if you were doing a breakdown of the factors of the game it was definitely on the Canucks' side. Not that it's a conspiracy. The refs have been terrible league-wide. Some nights they are bad for the Leafs, others they are bad for the Leafs. The five on three that the Canucks got was soft to say the least. Not to mention the tackle on Nikolai Kulemin that wasn't called prior to the GWG.
Onto some quick hits from the advanced stats:
Scoring Chances - The Leafs were outchanced 11-6 after the first period and the 6 Leafs chances were not exactly 10 bellers.
Corsi - The Leafs really got killed by one unit: Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alexandre Burrows. They were almost +20 each!
H2H TOI - Ron Wilson decided that he was going to run Lee Stempniak, Jason Blake, Wayne Primeau, Francois Beauchemin, and Carl Gunnarsson against that unit. Needless to say, they failed miserably.
Face-Offs - Not too many offensive zone face-offs for the Leafs which makaes sense since they decided to stop attacking after the first period.