Game 36: Flatliners
Let's begin with some good news for a change: Congratulations to Mikhail Grabovski and his partner Kate on the birth of their daughter.
Lily Grabovski arrived this evening around 8:30 p.m. Mikhail, I hope you cracked a smile in the delivery room. I hope you didn't react to this fantastic life moment the way you normally react to the fantastic goals you've scored this season.
Doctor: "Mr. Grabovski, congratulations! You have a little girl. Everything looks great. Do you want to hold her?"
Grabovski: "Not now. No. Thank you. I happy but now I go to bench in hospital waiting room to quietly think about scoring next baby."
Around the time Lily was entering the world, her father's colleagues were departing it.
Maybe they were tired of trying really, really hard only to lose in the end. Maybe they wanted to demonstrate "sleepwalking" to Mikhail so he's mentally prepared for the next few months of 2 a.m. feedings and diaper changes.
Whatever the reasons, the Leafs did the opposite of trying really, really hard and losing. They didn't try at all.
But in a tragic twist ending, they still lost.
It was just like the 1990 movie, Flatliners. But instead of medical students conducting scary experiments with clinical death, we watched as professional athletes conducted scary experiments with hockey death.
These included (but were not limited to): The Do Not Shoot The Puck For Several Minutes At A Time Experiment. The Do Not Forecheck Experiment. The Do Not Pick Up Your Man In The Defensive Zone Experiment. And even The Daydream About Anything Other Than The Game You Are Currently Playing Experiment.
When I look at the publicity shot above this post, I don't see Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt, Kiefer Sutherland, William Baldwin and Kevin Bacon. I swear to God, I see Kaberle, Beauchemin, Sjostrom, Mitchell and then a second Kaberle!
The Leafs do not play again in 2010. I guess that qualifies as more good news. People, the year is finally, mercifully over. Raise your champagne glasses and nibble on a lemon square. We survived the Leafs' flatlining and can now pray for a resurrection miracle in the weeks and months ahead.
Yes, appropriately, tonight's dismal performance marked the end of a dismal calendar year in which the richest franchise in the NHL showcased a piss-poor record of 29 wins, 39 losses and 9 other setbacks in overtime or a shootout.
You know, even through the gloomiest moments this season, there were positives upon which we could cast an optimistic eye. Not tonight. My guess is even the ultra-positive, super-loyal commenter Nik Culoman watched this game while pressing a butter knife against his jugular.
How can we cast optimistic eyes when our eyes are bloodshot from the relentless giveaways, the lack of break-out plays, the botched passing in the neutral zone, the anemic attack, the miscommunication and, holy bloody hell, the missed shots?
There was a moment tonight in which a few Blue Jackets swarmed Kris Versteeg after a whistle. The play was stopped when he fired a high slapshot off the glass after taking a hand pass. They seemed to think this was an act of provocation.
Honestly, I was tempted to text someone on the Columbus bench: Dudes, chill out! Versteeg was not head-hunting Steve Mason! Don't you idiots know – he always shoots high or wide!
After tonight, the Leafs are now averaging 2.28 goals per game, which is fourth worst in the league. After tonight, the Leafs now have 942 faceoff wins, which is third worst in the league. After tonight, the Leafs now have 288 missed shots at home, which is second worst in the league.
When they are outshot by opponents, as they were tonight, they have a .353 wining percentage, which is also second worst in the league.
More good news: At least we're not the worst in any of these categories?
Thank goodness for baby Lily. Without her, there would be nothing to celebrate as we say good riddance to 2010 and hope for new life in 2011.