Game 31: Dreaming about an island paradise called Consistency
Better late than never, I suppose.
The truth is, I feel queasy today and not just because the Leafs rolled through Calgary last night like harmless tumbleweed. (The unabridged queasy equation may be expressed as follows: Christmas Party + Open Bar + Inconsistent Leafs Play + Nightcap No. 1 + News of Three Flames Goals In Less Than 1 Minute + Perilous Cab Ride To Another Part of Town + Nightcap No. 6 + Confirmation of Leafs 5-2 Loss Via Your Comments + Wandering The Streets Alone at 3 a.m. = Queasy.)
The game wasn't shown at The Star's Christmas party last night. But mounted behind the bar, a flat-screen TV flickered with an endless loop of a burning fireplace log. The flames licked at the edge of the screen as the wood crackled in the heat.
So in a way, we watched the same thing last night.
After so much narrative build-up, I recall sitting inside a movie theatre in New York years ago and waiting for something – anything – to happen.
Who was this titular Roxy character? What would happen when she returned to town? How would she be received? What impact would she have?
Would she rescue Winona and take her to a promised land? Would she lead by example?
But when the limo pulls into Clyde, Ohio, where the entire town is gathered with bated breath, Roxy is a frigging no-show.
You know what Winona Ryder's character was named in that film? Dinky. You know how many shots the Leafs had last night? Nineteen. Also dinky.
Dinky performances all-around.
Welcome Home, Dion Phaneuf.
In between projectile vomiting and seeing bright lights this morning, I forced myself to watch the game. Well, I watched most of it.
And if nothing else, at least we now have a good sense of where we are with this team. We are standing at this intersection:
On Tuesday in Edmonton, the Leafs flat-out dominated. Then 48 hours later, they inexplicably fizzle like Winona Ryder's career. This up and down, this back and forth, this binge and purge, it's been happening all season.
I'll feel better tomorrow. Hopefully. But for now, I feel like crawling into a hammock at an island paradise to dream about a time in the future when the Leafs won't force me to stand barefoot under winter clouds and pick between "lost," "confused," "unsure," "unclear," "perplexed," "disoriented," and "bewildered."
The caption in my database says: "Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Jonas Gustavsson looks down after the Calgary Flames scored three quick goals during first period NHL action on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 in Toronto. Gustavsson was pulled shortly after."
The team was blown-up precisely for games like that. And yet...
The final score in that game was – wait for it – 5-2 Flames. The movie poster tagline in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael was: It's Good To Want Things.
It is good to want things.
So what do the Leafs want? No, really, what does this team want for itself this season? Does it want to make the playoffs? Does it understand time is running out? Does it really want to dominate or will it settle for fizzle?
After 31 games, I truly have no idea. But at this point, all I really want is consistency.