Game 47: (Insert your own cliché for trying hard but coming up short here)
Good evening, unicorns and zombies. The Lizard King walks alone in the crimson sunset.
As mentioned this morning, I am sick and currently hopped up on a possibly dangerous cocktail of meds, one that is wreaking havoc on my senses. I am seeing things. I am hearing things. I can't feel my toes.
So for your sake, I shall be brief this evening.
Let me begin by thanking you for writing your own headline. I was busy sobbing as my walls undulated like bowls of Jell-O in an earthquake. I appreciate your help.
Let me continue by telling you the picture above this post has very little to do with tonight's 4-1 loss. Okay, it has nothing to do with it. I was simply fascinated by the bunnies – why are they trying to hypnotize us? – and hope you feel the same.
It's a shame the NHL doesn't give points for noble efforts. It's a shame we all can't pile into the glowing time machine someone left in my kitchen and go back to November and December with an urgent message for the magnetic Leaf bastards: "Hey! Don't blow any easy games! Play to win each and every night! No let-downs! Otherwise, it'll be January 22 and, trust us, you'll regret all the points you frittered away like Frisbees in a hurricane."
Did the Leafs play a good game tonight? Yes. Did they deserve better? Yes. Was that an entertaining contest? Yes. Is losing still losing? Yes. Do the playoffs seem less likely with each passing day? Yes. Is there a rhinoceros on my front porch?
In a way, tonight's game was a microcosm of the frustrating parts of this entire season. When Tyler Bozak failed to score on a breakaway, it felt like all the failed or botched scoring chances since October. When Mikhail Grabovski missed the yawning cage, it was a reminder of all the lost opportunities over the first 47 games.
Alex Ovechkin picked a hell of a night to break out of his slump. But even his three goal performance did not feel like a normal hat trick. It felt like another reminder: This Leafs team is still so young, so fragile, so vulnerable to the greatness of others.
And, please, let's not get started on the scene-stealing work of 21-year-old Braden Holtby. A few hours ago, we were like, "Who?" But then the Washington goalie went out and toggled between solid and unbeatable. He stole a game. And not sure if it's the meds or churlish second-guessing but why can't I stop thinking about another young goalie who rhymes with Dames Kymer?
Hopefully, the Leafs "learned something" from tonight's spirited loss. Hopefully, they bonded in defeat. Hopefully, these games – which are starting to feel like handfuls of dirt tossed on a coffin – will fulfill a higher purpose when we are born again in the promised land.
As the leprechaun standing on my coffee table just said: "There will be more struggles. But don't worry. We'll get there yet."
TOP PHOTO: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES