Game 24: I could see my body drifting toward a bright light
During tonight's gruesome 5-0 loss to Edmonton, my extremities went numb.
I could not feel my fingers. My breathing became shallow. My eyes glazed over like two Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a tray of broken dreams in a town called Despair.
Then sitting in the darkness, in the ethereal glow of Leafs TV, an out-of-body experience: I could see myself leaving my chair and hurtling towards a light.
"Come on over," said Bill Barilko. "Don't be afraid."
"It's better here," said Conn Smythe. "You'll never see them get shutout again. Never."
Lord have mercy.
People, the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to kill us. There can be no other explanation. They are murdering us with their botched scoring chances. They are suffocating us with their anemic attack. They are choking us with their utterly wretched, confounding, pitiful play.
The Oil was playing its third game in four nights but it was the Leafs that had no gas. No, that's not fair. They had gas. But as per usual, it was not high-octane. You know something? It's not even a liquid! No, the gas in the Leafs' tank at this moment in time is completely inert.
Jonas Gustavsson – one of the few reasons for hope in recent days – let in two goals that Andrea Bocelli could have stopped. I mean, I've heard of the five hole. But until tonight, I never realized there were also six and seven holes.
Anyway, after this painfully familiar beginning, the Leafs slipped into a painfully familiar state of suspended animation in which every mental process – confidence, determination, drive – vanishes without a trace and the other guys are made to look spectacular.
That's it, really. That's the Leaf season thus far: They are killing their fans and making every other team in the NHL look like a collection of superstars.
Jordan Eberle hasn't scored since before Halloween? No worries, son! Come to Toronto and you'll get one. Edmonton enters the game with the worst PK in the league? Well, obviously, this can only mean they'll kill all five Leaf power plays as fans inside the pindrop-silent ACC pelt each other with popcorn to stay awake.
And let's not even get started on opposition goaltending.
Yes, Nikolai Khabibulin had a good game. But at this point, the enemy could strap phone books to Betty White's legs, catapult her into the crease and she'd stone this Leafs team.
What can be done? Should the Leafs start shooting at their own net? That way, at least, they'll control the play and ensure the opposition never scores. Should they visit a hypnotist? A witch doctor? Should they just forget about hockey for a few months and start selling wooden trinkets down by the marina?
Goodnight, friends. I think I see that light again.
MAIN PHOTO: KEITH BEATY/TORONTO STAR