Game 27: Lost in Translation
If you asked the Leafs to help move a grand piano, I suspect their first impulse would be to push it with their eyelids. This team does not do anything the easy way.
Case in point: Tonight's loss to Pittsburgh.
1. Start the game with zero energy.
2. Get outshot 13-4 in the first.
3. Casually sweep at the puck instead of cover Sidney Crosby when he's buzzing around the net.
4. Get outshot 11-6 in the second.
5. Take not one but two penalties for "too many men on the ice."
6. Give up a two-on-nothing while on the power play.
7. Make a few horrific line changes.
8. Surrender three goals in 3 minutes and 8 seconds in the second.
9. Lull the Penguins into believing the game is over and their winning streak will continue.
10. Then... attempt another epic comeback in the third!
The nutty thing is it really looked like the Leafs might pull off No. 10. Alas, after thrilling come-from-behind victories against Boston and Washington, it was not to be and a 4-0 Penguin lead crystallized as a 5-2 Penguin win.
About an hour before tonight's game started, one of my 4-year-old daughters showed me a Christmas card she made.
It was emblazoned with orange stars and blue fish and a zigzag pattern of ribbons.
"Do you want me to read it to you?" she asked sweetly. "It has a special message!"
"Sure!" I said, clapping and leaning forward.
"It says, 'Santa is coming to our house soon,'" she said, enunciating carefully while dragging her finger across the inside. "And then it says, 'In gym class, we wear our running shoes.' And then this last part says, 'We wear our boots in the snow.'"
"What a great card!" I said. "I love it!"
"It's for you!" she said, handing it to me and beaming.
I thanked her and opened it. Sure enough, the "special message" scrawled inside actually read: "ROOOROOOROROOOROORRROOO."
Somehow, best Leaf intentions were lost in translation. Somehow, the team couldn't spell the words they wanted until it was too late.
So for the first two periods, they were forced to read a different special message from what the rest of us could plainly see. And just like that, every ounce of pre-game excitement evaporated and our expressions began to mirror those of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in the photo atop this post.
Instead of passing or skating or shooting, we ended up with a whole lot of ROOOROOOROROOOROORRROOO. Instead of mental toughness, it was muddled-headed gaffes and more ROOOROOOROROOOROORRROOO.
I mean, one penalty for "too many men on the ice" may have a logical explanation; two of them in one game and we are clearly dealing with a failure to communicate. Holding Crosby to two shots is usually great news. But when he scores on both of those shots, well, punch me in the giblets and ROOOROOOROROOOROORRROOO.
But let’s give this young Leafs team credit for refusing to wave a white flag. More important, let's hope they come up with an easier game plan for Philadelphia tomorrow.