Game 16: When life gives you lemons, don't let one of them squirt through your legs
Everybody okay this morning? Silly question. Leaf fans are always okay in the morning.
You know why? Because the Leafs don't play hockey in the morning!
No, by now, we understand the rules of engagement. We know the universe takes perverse pleasure in putting our modest expectations in a vise-grip. We know crushing, demoralizing, soul-sucking losses, like last night's 5-3 defeat to Vancouver, are part of the equation.
We know there will be moments, like at 13:36 of the third, when every single molecule in our bodies will suddenly feel like this:
Then like this:
But then we go to bed and wake up looking like this:
I call that last expression, "Whatever, universe."
Phil Kessel wiggles out of his slump and scores on the power play? Fredrik Sjostrom tips a shot from Francois Beauchemin? Mikhail Grabovski continues his recent sharp-shooting? The Leafs finally score three goals and it’s not enough?
J.S. Giguere flubs a long shot that squirts through his pads for the winner? The Canucks get a fluky empty-netter as the Leafs are pressing? Nazem Kadri, ushered into his first game of the season on a tsunami of hype, loses control of the puck on an odd-man rush when the score is tied at three in the third?
So I'm not going to whine this morning. You know? I'm just going to embrace that third emoticon and glance upward at the heavens with Zen-like calm.
I'm not going to accuse the Canucks of engaging in the kind of hammy theatrics you usually find inside a prison acting class. I'm not going to say they should consider signing the Olsen sisters if they're ever in the market for another set of twins.
(I mean, has anybody checked on Christian Ehrhoff? Is he permanently disfigured? The way he jumped into the air and collapsed in a heap at 9:09 of the first – which resulted in a cross-checking penalty to John Mitchell and led to Vancouver's first power play goal – I just assumed he was actually shot with a harpoon.)
I'm also not going to say the Leafs played a good game. They did. But I'm not going to say it because, at this point, I'm getting tired of saying they played a good game and lost. I'm getting tired of searching for branches of hope in the wilderness of despair.
Here's the thing: Vancouver is a great team. And great teams finds ways to win games they don't always deserve. The Leafs, meanwhile, are... are... what the hell are they?
Cursed? Doomed to perennial gloom? Always on the cusp of just getting better? Maybe next week? Maybe next year? Maybe in 2183 after we're all dead?
I have no idea.
What I do know is this: Not-so-great teams find ways to lose games they deserve to win. And as fans, there's not much we can do except say, "Whatever, universe."