When losing feels like a kick in the face
Good morning, Leafs Nation. And welcome to... A Leafs Fan Drinks.
I hope you remembered to turn back your clocks. Me, I've already blown my extra hour of daylight savings time trying to purge last night's horrific spectacle from my long-term memory.
Seriously, what the hell was that?
It's not just losing to Buffalo that stings like malt vinegar on a head wound. It's the way this team rolled over and died: No energy. No drive. No purpose.
We could probably analyze game tape and come up with 50 different questions about defensive coverage or the lack of transition or the fact nobody is passing the puck anymore.
But here are two questions that are driving me batty this morning:
1. Who Abducted Phil Kessel?
In his first 8 games, the guy was on fire: 7 goals, 2 assists, 3.5 shots per game. Then he went to Boston on October 28 to play against his former team and Tyler Seguin. While in Beantown, apparently, the real Phil Kessel was abducted at gunpoint and the Leafs are now dressing an imposter.
In the last five games – or 38 per cent of the season thus far – this Fake Phil Kessel has scored 0 goals, assisted on 0 goals and given Leaf fans 1 million causes for concern.
It's as if Fake Phil Kessel is skating in quicksand. He's not getting open, not getting quality chances. His shots-per-game average has dipped under 3. He's tripping over phantom obstacles. He's ragging the puck and turning it over or making low-percentage passes on the power play.
This is crazy. When will the real Phil Kessel return?
2. Why was Nikolai Kulemin missing from the shootout?
Okay, we mucked-up a 2-0 goal lead at home. We let the lowly Sabres even this snoozefest of a game with 13 seconds left in the third.
Granted, all of this is stunning. But here's what I find even more stunning than all of this: Ron Wilson did not use Nikolai Kulemin in the shootout.
I mean, what? He has three goals in the last three games. Right now, he's easily the most dangerous Leaf in the offensive zone. I know this is like saying he's the tallest man at a little people convention but still.
He can pick corners and deke. He's fast. He can trick a goalie using nothing more than his shifty eyes. In other words, he's exactly the kind of guy you want in a shootout.
What am I missing? Is there some technical reason Kulemin was not one of the first three Leafs shooters, if not the first?
Tomorrow is another day, people. Tomorrow is another day. This is what I keep teling my bottle of Grey Goose.
PHOTO: FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS