Game 44: Sleepy Hollow
If nothing else, give the Leafs credit for tonight's unprecedented game plan.
Hey, any team can win by storming out of the gate, skating and hitting, passing and shooting. Any team can win with energy, focus and desire.
But what the Leafs did tonight, now that was truly special. These pioneers attempted to win a game by lulling the entire Western hemisphere into a coma. They tried to win by bumping into each other, not shooting, giving away the puck, not skating, hugging each other on the bench, not passing, staring into space, not defending and leaving their veteran goalie pretty much on his own.
These hockey innovators tried to win by actually not trying to win.
If you missed the first 58 minutes of this grim snoozefest, you actually didn't. But if you're determined to replicate the excitement of those first 58 minutes, you could always break into a Madame Tussauds museum after closing and strike up a conversation with a wax statue of Lyndon B. Johnson while nibbling on a slice of construction paper.
Oh, and don't forget to punch yourself in the face.
It was Marcel Mueller's first NHL game. But Marcel Marceau could've done the play-by-play tonight given how little there was to call.
Yes, Mikhail Grabovski tied the game with 13 seconds left in the third to salvage a point before the S.S. Slumber glugged down in choppy seas. And, yes, the Leafs were forced to kill a questionable penalty in overtime. And, also yes, we already know this team will never be featured in a future book titled The Idiot’s Guide To Winning An NHL Shootout.
But despite this burst of late-game energy – this coda to the coma, if you will – the Leafs simply wasted a chance to creep up in the standings by not getting serious about winning until it was almost over.
Six shots in the first? Really? Six shots in the second? No... really?
It was as if the dazzling road trip was suddenly a false memory. It was as if the Leafs were trying to remind us of something: They will not hesitate to slash giant holes into our souls just when it looks like they've lowered their knives.
I mean, this thing nearly ended as a 1-0 Calgary road shutout victory with Matt Stajan scoring the only goal. As unlikely events go, that's the final score equivalent of getting hit twice by lightning after splitting an order of suicide wings with Noam Chomsky at Hooters.
I don't know. You know? I just don't know.
This is one of those nights in which I feel sorry for us, for Leafs Nation. We should not be losing all feeling in our extremities watching this utter Crappy McCrap on a Saturday night. We should not be glancing at the out-of-town scores in mid-January, our fingers crossed with hope, our eyes crossed with tedium.
There was a "Go Leafs Go" chant sometime in the second period that almost made me weep. So few people were participating. You could actually hear their individual voices. Seriously. It was like a "Go Leafs Go" chant as performed by the saddest barbershop quartet in the world.
I guess the question is, "Now what?" Does this team get back on track? Or do we now spend another couple of weeks in the forest at night, ducking reality as the Headless Horseman gallops past?
What a game. So sleepy, so hollow. Such an absurd waste.