Game 48: More great lessons from a remedial course called Losing
Good evening, Leafs Nation! And welcome to tonight's post, awkwardly subtitled "The Same Old Lessons This Young Leafs Team Keeps Learning As We Watch With Grimacing Smiles."
If that phrase sounds familiar, it's because someone, somewhere, says it after each and every loss. At this very second, for example, a card-carrying citizen within our mythical borders is scrubbing blue-and-white face paint off his or her face and reciting these exact words into a bathroom mirror: "Yes, they lost 6-4 to Carolina. But, man, those guys learned some valuable lessons tonight!"
Did they? I suppose. But here's the thing: Since so many of these lessons have already been taught over the previous 47 games, why are they not getting absorbed? Shouldn't players on this team already have honourary degrees from Princeton, Harvard and Cambridge?
So what's the problem inside this year's school of hard knocks?
Are these magnificent poor Leaf bastards not paying attention? Are they doodling pictures of four-legged Zambonis in their notepads and spitting gobs of bubble gum at each other instead of studying for game day exams? Are they having trouble concentrating, what with all the other kids yammering excitedly about "playoffs"?
I have no idea. But maybe it's time we started jotting down some of these lessons. You know, so they can refer to them before games.
Here, I'll get started with 10 Random Lessons From Tonight's Game:
2. When on the power play, it's important to move your feet and move the puck out of your zone as quickly as possible. After this transition, you should create traffic in front of the other team's net. Simply passing the puck around as if you're playing a game of hot potato is not an effective way to score with the man advantage.
3. Unless your name is Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill, Mike Brown or Clarke MacArthur, do not start throwing gloves-on punches at opposition players who are known to drop their gloves because these players are capable of suddenly dropping their gloves and breaking a human face.
4. If you end up getting several power plays early in a game, including a two-man advantage, there's an excellent chance the referees will call some penalties on your team later in the game. Stay disciplined and don’t make this easy for the officials to do. Also: score on your chances. Please.
5. It's never a bad idea to fake a shot on a breakaway. It's always a bad idea to pass when you're alone in the slot. Horrible idea: Missing the net by 134 feet when you're 8 feet away.
6. Shooting the puck directly at an NHL goaltender may result in bruising and subtle psychological intimidation. But it rarely results in a goal.
8. Working hard is great. Working smart is better.
9. If the game is tied mid-way through the third, do not get trapped in the offensive zone if there is even a 1 per cent risk of an odd-man rush going the other way.
So there you have it.
If any of this sounds harsh or needlessly sarcastic, I apologize. Truly I do. That was not my intention. You guys actually played a half-decent game tonight. You came back from a 3-1 deficit in the third and nearly stole this one.
Unfortunately, "half-decent" is not good enough and "nearly" is irrelevant where point totals are concerned. So if you want to graduate from this remedial course and get accepted into the next one – Critical Lessons in Winning – it's time to start remembering the curriculum.
Get some rest, you lovable kooks. Next test is tomorrow in Tampa. Class dismissed.
For you, hoofheartz:
MAIN PHOTO: RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR