Game 49: We're heading into an all-star break? Praise the Lord
Let's begin with some fantastic news: The Leafs do not play again until February 1.
I never thought the day would come when a week without these magnificent deranged bastards could feel like a blessing from high above. But that's exactly how it feels.
Lord, I salute you for this temporary reprieve! I am down on bended knees, hands clasped, thanking you for the all-star break!
I can't wait to do normal things for the next six nights. Read magazines, go to a restaurant, tuck my kids into bed... not wander the streets alone after midnight, muttering like a madman about botched power plays and hot opposition goalies.
You know? Just normal, healthy activities. Quite unlike the abnormal, unhealthy activity that is watching the 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs suck our souls into a jagged vortex of swirling misery and compounding grief.
Should we even bother talking about tonight's shutout loss in Tampa? I mean, what's the point? It'll just cut into our vacation time and delay the healing before the hurting begins again next week.
The thing is, even if you didn't watch tonight – by the way, congratulations on that wise decision – you can probably guess what happened. No, seriously, close your eyes and try.
The puck has just dropped in Tampa. What do you see?
Now what do you see?
That’s right. Tampa is dominating the first period because there are... no Leafs on the ice. NO LEAFS!
Where are they? What happened to them?
Tampa is blitzing poor James Reimer and sashaying around his non-existent teammates. They are drawing penalties and giggling on the bench and flying in alone on breakaways and odd-man rushes.
They are even doing TV interviews DURING the period!
It's inexplicable, really. Or maybe it's not. I don't know anymore. Do you? Is there any logical explanation for any of this? Do the Leafs even care? More important, why do we?
Once again, this Leafs team failed to report for the first period. Once again, the opposition was forced to embarrass a mirage of harmless ghosts in phantom jerseys as frantic NHL execs called the cops to report 25 missing people.
COPS: "What do these missing people look like?"
EXECS: "We're not sure. They keep changing!"
The shots after the first were 17-4 for Tampa. If not for the sensational play of Reimer, the score would have been 7-0 instead of 2-0. In fact, the most miraculous part about this hauntingly familiar evening was Reimer's questionable decision to remain a Toronto goalie and not escape through a fire exit during the first intermission, fleeing into the Florida shadows to live under an assumed identity as a wrangler of dangerous snakes.
God knows he would be safer in that line of work. God knows he would get more support. God knows he deserves better.
Close your eyes again. What happened next? Think.
That's right! The Leafs suddenly arrived from their parallel universe, where time is elastic and exertion means inertia. They climbed into their corporeal bodies, 20 minutes late. They started to compete and took the game to Tampa. They tried hard, real hard, and played pretty darn well. Or Tampa got bored and decided to start their all-star break a little early. Tough to say, really.
Then what happened? Yes, yes, go on...
That's also right! The Leafs ran out of time. They came up short. They couldn't "solve" the other guy in net. They looked like they may climb back on the score sheet, they looked like they kind of, sort of, maybe wanted to win but then... oh no... yes... they lost.
So here we are, heading into the all-star break. I'm not sure this team deserves a break but, holy hell, we sure do.
Enjoy it! Breathe! Be normal and healthy! Sleep! Eat well! Laugh! Socialize! Live!
No more Leafs for a week? Take it away, k.d. lang...