Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Morning After

I didn't get drunk during the game last night but I sure as hell wish I did. The alcohol would have been the only thing enjoyable during that three hour block. It was a sloppy affair which both teams didn't seem to care to win. Somehow we found ourselves with a 2-0 lead so I can't complain. That's when it all started to go downhill.

Before the second period ended, Mike Brown finds himself on a 2 on 1 with Sjostrom and he doesn't even think to pass. This is easily read by the goalie and everybody else with a functioning set of eyes watching the game. Unless Mike Brown finds himself on a 2 on 1 with Colton Orr, his first option should never ever be shoot. The play then goes back down the ice and into the Leafs zone. Leopold throws a weak wrister on net from the point (which John Mitchell doesn't even attempt to block) and look who's there to clean up the garbage. Derek Roy, the guy Mike Brown was responsible for.

I don't know what was said in the locker room during the intermission but we came out playing even shittier. The Leafs mustered 3 shots in the third against Jhonas Enroth. You know, the 5'10 goalie who just got lit up against the Bruins, allowing 3 goals on 12 shots, a couple of nights ago.

This guy...

The way we were playing, I just had a feeling we wouldn't be able to hold on to the lead. I was hoping that I would be wrong but this is the Leafs we're talking about. Of course they will find a way to blow it. With 16 seconds left, the puck goes to Montador at the point, he throws it at the net, which no Leaf attempts to block (see the pattern here?). The puck bounces of Derek Roy, it bounces off Schenn, it then lands right on an open Jochen Hecht's stick where he jams it home with 14 seconds left. Well, fuck.

Nothing to note in overtime so we're off to the shoot out. While the Leafs are historically garbage in the shoot out, I had high hopes because we're facing a rookie goalie in his first career shoot out. There's no way we don't leave him looking for his jock strap. First up is Versteeg. In his attempt, he pulled off a shoot out move used by many Leafs in the past. He fired it right at Enroth's pads. Nice to see him carry on tradition. Kessel got robbed on another shot and John Mitchell scores on the end of a beautiful dangle. Luckily Vanek was the only one to score for Buffalo so we're going to extras.

The fourth shooter is Clarke MacArthur. The Clarke MacArthur who going into this game is a career 0 for 8 in the shoot out. I don't get it. Was it Cito Gaston appreciation night at the ACC? I simply didn't get what Wilson was thinking when Kulemin and Grabovski, who both have had a heck of a game, were still available. MacArthur, who saw what would and wouldn't work, decided to go with what wouldn't work, doing the exact same thing Versteeg did. For the fifth shooter, Wilson puts out another head scratcher in Tomas Kaberle. He gets stopped, Tyler Ennis doesn't. Game. Set. Match.

We lose a very ugly and very winnable game. I just wish there was one of these to be taken to make last night go away.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Week In Hockey: Opening Week

Hockey's back! It's been back for a good week now. There's definitely been a few surprises. Some pleasant (LEAFS!!!1) and some just downright hilarious. In case you're still catching up with your hockey news, don't fret. I got ya.

Oct 7 - Opening Night
  • Leafs beat the Habs. Leafs fans everywhere breathes a sigh of relief as they won't go winless in their first eight games this season.
  • Jordan Eberle scores his first goal and it's a beauty.

Oct 8
  • Ondrej Pavelec collapses on the ice for no apparent reason. Doctors are still running tests to determine what was wrong. Isn't it obvious? Dude's playing in his fourth season in Atlanta...
Oct 9
  • Leafs beat up on the Sens. Toronto media jokes about Leafs fans planning the parade. Where do they come up with such original material?
  • John Tavares gets blindsided and is out with a concussion. That loud thud you hear isn't the sound of Tavares hitting the ice, it's the sound of Islanders' fans hopes and dreams being shattered.
  • Derek Stepan scores a hat trick in his first NHL game. I have the feeling that this might be the highlight of his career.
  • Brodeur puts up a Toskalian effort and gets chased from the net, allowing 5 goals on 20 shots.
Oct 10
  • Tyler Seguin scores his first goal after a great over the shoulder catch. Toronto will certainly regret trading that pick. The Argos could definitely use a receiver with those hands.
Oct 11
  • James Wisniewski shows Sean Avery how he brushes his back molars. The league suspends him two games for his insensitive actions. C'mon James, total low blow! Hockey players don't have teeth.
  • Niklas Hjalmarsson lays out Jason Pominville on a very borderline hit. The biggest crime is that Hjalmarsson's name has a H and a J consecutively. That shouldn't be allowed in any language!
  • The New Jersey Devils are victims of salary cap mismanagement once again. They send out 15 skaters due to injuries and suspensions. Luckily it was a home game so nobody was there to witness it.
Oct 12
  • Kirk Maltby retires. I didn't realize he was still playing after the lock out. His combined -34 since then might have something to do with that.
Oct 13
Oct 14
  • Mike Modano returns to Dallas and is greeted by a standing ovation. Simon Gagne returns to Philadelphia and is greeted by being pelted with dead batteries.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perception vs Reality: Platinum Seats

*This post is coming a week late but the motivation just isn't there when you lose a game to the Sens by a score of 5-0.

A couple of months ago, on an early summer's day, the Leafs announced that they were giving out chances to win tickets to the Coke Zero Fans First game. I was working downtown and knew they were at Much Music so I took the early GO train and made an attempt to line up for whatever they would be doing. The line wasn't too long but the planners were adamant on starting at 8:30 am sharp. With a half hour to go, the humidex close to 40C and Sens_Sucks a few feet away from me, I couldn't wait for the line to start moving.

The hockey gods must have heard my silent prayers because ten minutes later and one of the Coke dudes started handing out complimentary tickets.


SEATS RIGHT UP AGAINST THE GLASS! This will probably be the only time I will ever be able to catch a game in the first row without selling a kidney. I've dreamt of this many times but never thought it would happen. Now the only thing standing between me and the game is father time.

As I got to the ACC, I looked around for the entrance to the platinums but couldn't find one. Turns out that there's some secret entrance behind the stairs to the upper levels. While walking down those steps and into the dimly lit corridor, I felt like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. This is what it's like to be a gangster (or a wealthy businessman). I put down my beer, took my seat and waited for our heroes to take the ice.

Enter Sandman starts booming from the speakers, Andy Frost's voice greets the crowd, the gates open and Gustavsson is leading the way. Oh shit, it's about to begin! Let's see if a game in the platinums are all it's cracked up to be.

Perception: I'm so close as you can get, without being in the same booth as Pierre McGuire. I will literally be able to smell the players' blood and sweat!

Reality: Despite it being a free "Fans' first" game, the lady beside me made sure I got an authentic experience by ordering sushi so all I smelled was raw fish and wasabi.

Perception: I'm right up against the glass! I can't get any closer to the action. The view must be impeccable.

Reality: WTF, ref?! Get the fuck out of the way! My seats were right by the blue line and I was blocked out of the play any time the puck was in the zone for an extended period of time.

Perception: So we have periods one and three in the Leafs end. That's okay, our D should be much improved this year. Dion's leadership will provide direction and I'm sure Komisarek and Beauchemin will be way better than they were last year. I can't wait to see that up close.

Reality: Komisarek and Beauchemin didn't play, I saw Nick Foligno blow by Dion Phaneuf and I got real close to the Leafs defence...when they were sitting in the box serving a penalty.

Perception: At least I will get to see the Leafs' offence up close in the second period. I can't wait to see how Versteeg will fit into the picture. He will provide some much needed secondary scoring. Also, KADRI!!!1

Reality: 0-6 on the powerplay in the second period including two 5 on 3's!

Perception: With TIFF finishing up, I'm sure I'll catch some celebrities in the platinums too!

Reality: I had to squint my eyes to see a group of Raptors players across the ice from me...I only found out their names from Demar DeRozan's tweet...and then I had to use google to see who on the Raptors was named "Joey"...

Perception: It's a preseason game, I don't give a damn if we win but I can't wait until we score a goal so I can bang on that glass!

Reality: We get shut out 5-0 and the loudest ovation that night came when Wendel Clark made an appearance.

I don't know if I can say that sitting against the glass have met my expectations. Platinum seats are great as an experience but they definitely aren't the best seats in the house. When the puck was in my zone, the linesman stood right in front of me, and when the puck was in the other end, I had to crank my neck until it cramped just to get a glimpse of the action. If wealthy Bay street brokers want to pay ridiculous amounts of money to sit so close, then good on them. I definitely wouldn't recommend these seats to the hardcore fans. I think I'll stick to the upper bowl where I can see the whole rink. Perhaps if the Leafs put up more of an effort and won, I might have changed my mind about the seats. I doubt it though, I've always been a glass is half empty kind of guy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

7 Things Leafs Fans Will Watch For

Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Hungry,
H to the L-F, I used to write blogs about fake refs...

I was going to head to the gym today but decided to dust off the ol' blogspot instead. It's been a long while since I've written anything on here and even a longer while since I've written anything worth reading. Hopefully that will change. The more content part. No guarantees about it being worth reading.

With the hockey season about to start, I figured it would be a great time to get things rolling again. While majority of the team we saw in April is still here, there has been a few key moves in the offseason. In case you weren't paying attention to hockey during the summer, here is a guide with seven things Leafs fans will be keeping an eye on during the new 2010-11 season.

#1 Tomas Kaberle

The big Leafs news...or non-news during the offseason was who we would be getting in return for our favourite Czech, Tomas Kaberle. As I'm sure we all know, Tomas is staying in TO for at least one more year, assuming that he doesn't waive his NTC. Kaberle flew out of the gates last year, scoring 35 points in his first 41 games. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep up his hot start and only notched 14 points in his last 41 games. He still finished with a very respectable 49 points, good for 8th in points by defencemen in the league, but also had a dismal -16 to accompany it.

Tomas have stated a number of times that he wants to remain a Leaf for life but with all the drama he has been through over the past year, I wouldn't blame him if he left. While is future is cloudy in Toronto, there is one thing that is certain. Whether he plays well or puts up horrendous numbers; whether he waives his NTC or stands pat; whether he re-signs or flees in the summer, people will be watching, people will be judging.

#2 Sensationalized Headlines

Oh look! The puck hasn't even dropped yet and it has already begun. But wait, you say. This is merely a play on words signalling the emergence of Kadri's two-way play!

You're giving them too much credit. This is the Toronto media after all.

#3 New Additions

The most notable additions Burke brought in during the summer are Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur.

Versteeg is a welcome addition as he should take some pressure off Phil Kessel by providing some much needed secondary scoring. It also never hurts to bring in a Stanley Cup winner. We'll see if he can shine when he's not overshadowed by Toews and Kane.

At $3M a season, Colby Armstrong will have to put up some career numbers to justify his salary. While I don't see him doing that, I do see him winning the fans over with some hard-nosed hockey. I'm hoping we get a Darcy Tucker like effort from Colby, minus the crazy.

We might be overpaying for Armstrong but MacArthur comes at a steal at $1.1M. Since it's a one year deal, MacArthur will definitely be looking to put up some numbers for a pay raise. Given he get put into the right situation, he should be able to pot a career high in goals.

#4 Sophomore Slumps

The dreaded sophomore slump. Many have fallen victim to it but few can explain why.

Can Bozak continue to shine and turn Kessel into a 40 goal guy? Can Gunnarson continue his steady play which saw him with a team leading +8? Can Gustavsson continue where he left off, winning 7 out of 10 while posting a .915 save percentage? With three sophomores looking to play pivotal roles on next year's team, Leafs fans everywhere are hoping that they don't get hit by this phenomenon.

#5 Second Year Leafs

We move from second year NHLers to second year Leafs. With only a handful of players remaining from the JFJ era, most or our team are first or second year Leafs. While many are depth players, there are a few we will be watching to see if they can carry the team on their shoulders. Can Phaneuf handle the pressure that comes with being the first Leafs captain since Mats? Will Komisarek and Beauchemin find their game in a Leafs uniform and prove that last year was simply a bad fluke season? Can Sjostrom bolster the PK and lead us out of our 30th place ranking? Can Kessel keep lighting the lamp? I'm hoping the answer is yes to all of those questions.

#6 Rookies

With a 29th place finish last year, the returning vet's places in the line ups are all but secured. Kadri, D'Amigo, Rynnas and Stefanovich might be four rookies for Leafs fans and veteran players low on the depth chart to keep an eye on this year.

We all know about Kadri. He's the Leafs blue chip, our second saviour. Will he play his way on to the big club or will he start with the Marlies? The Leafs doesn't want to rush his development but they want to see if he has what it takes to play at the top level too. No matter what league he plays in, Leafs fans will definitely have an eye on him this season.

Jerry D'Amigo's most famous goal to date was one that crushed another team with a Maple Leaf on their chest. If he can provide that kind of clutch play for our Leafs, all will be forgiven.

With Giguere coming off the books after this season, the Leafs will need somebody to step into his spot. The goalie prospect most are hyped about right now is the 6'5 Jussi Rynnas. He will almost certainly start off with the Marlies but could be the next in line to join the big club. Much like Gustavsson last year, Rynnas will have to get accustomed to the North American game. While that may lead to a rough start, he is still somebody Leafs fans will want to pay close attention to.

Mikhail Stefanovich is a bit of a question mark. Many thought he might make some noise with the team last year but a poor preseason put an end to those ideas. He had a mediocre season in the Q last year and as a result, he's flying a bit under the radar. Hopefully he can find that scorer's touch which helped him net 49 goals in the Q two years ago.


I hate to say it, but whether we like it or not, many Leafs fans will have an eye on...


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Small Victories


  • Shaun Marcum pitching great but the bullpen throwing shitballs
  • Kevin Gregg walking in the winning run on 4 pitches
  • Randy Ruiz not being freed
  • Francona not putting in Papelbon for the save (I have him on my fantasy team...don't judge me!)
  • and spending $10.25 for a tallboy of Keith's

I left last night's game with a smile on my face because during the middle of the ninth, a father and son a section over saw my sign, gave me a thumbs up and chanted down to Cito to free Ruiz. Small victories.