Game 34: The Perfect Storm
During tonight's 4-1 victory over a team of narcoleptic mimes in New Jersey sweaters, I spent several minutes Googling "tug and pull."
I think it was in the third period. Maybe it was the first. Anyway, a commercial for Gillette's Fusion ProGlide had just aired and I was convinced the copywriter had slipped a sexual euphemism into the ad: "It glides for less tug and pull."
Oh my God, I thought. Are they now using shady massage parlour lingo to sell disposable razors? Really?
Then a few minutes later, I realized my mistake: No, no, no. That "special service" at a massage parlour is called a "rub and tug," right? It's not a "tug and pull."
It was one of those games, you see, where the mind was free to wander.
Outside the Prudential Center, a huge blizzard created wintry chaos. Inside, the "crowd" – official attendance was 5,329, which means they must have accidentally counted everybody's toques, scarves and gloves as separate people – created an atmosphere usually reserved for municipal bylaw hearings.
The narcoleptic mimes, the apocalyptic weather, the empty seats, the post-Christmas sleepy mood, all of this combined to create a perfect storm for the home team.
And if the Leafs ventured into this perfect storm with any silly ideas about freezing up and blowing an easy game, as they have this season, Jersey was simply having none of it.
Nope. Nothing doing. You guys from Toronto, here's the deal: Just find a way to broach the vertical walls of snow and we will give you the two points, no questions asked. You want our skates? You want our sticks? You're welcome to have that stuff as well since we won't be needing it any time soon.
The Leafs started strong. They weathered a few shifts in the second when the narcoleptic mimes awoke briefly to do a so-so impression of a once powerful hockey team. They capitalized on their chances, benefited from steady if unspectacular goaltending, went to the net, got a couple of lucky bounces and deserved to win and smile during their four group hugs.
But, really, you could teach 20 adult baboons to skate, arm them with brooms and they would at least take this Jersey team to a shootout nine times out of ten. I witnessed more intensity in the stores earlier today while attempting to purchase a new camera on Boxing Day.
So let's just be grateful for this late Christmas gift and leave it at that.
Let's tip our hats to Colby Armstrong, who scored the first and last goals for the visitors. Let's nod in the general direction of John Mitchell, who banged in a rebound. Let's give a thumbs-up to Nikolai Kulemin, who wristed a shot past the shaky mime imposter with "BRODEUR" emblazoned on the back of his jersey.
If the Leafs only played the Devils this season, they'd now be a heavenly 34-0. But they don't and so this win, while wonderful and desperately needed, does not amount to very much in the grand scheme of late 2010.
What happens next, when the opposition is made up of professional hockey players and our minds are not free to wander, that's what really matters. I'm happy we won. But this perfect storm had zero tug and pull.
Ilya Kovalchuk, trapped in a glass box.