Game 62: Bad goal bonanza
Moments after the shootout loss, another guest at the party yelled: "I'm not getting roped back into this fairy tale!"
The sheer exasperation and sincerity in his voice made me laugh into my beer.
Outside, snowflakes the size of silver dollars cascaded down in the orbital glow of streetlights. Inside the home of Star cartoonist Patrick Corrigan, friends and family gathered to celebrate his 60th birthday.
It was a grand affair – the party, not the game – that included hours of unidentifiable music, gourmet tapas, spirited conversation, rivers of wine and the vaguely unsettling sight of Patrick strolling around in a giant hat that looked suspiciously like a cake.
Well, not perfect, but two points instead of one better.
After Patrick's wife, Sue-Ann, wrongly accused me of turning on the game – I think it was the tall guy or maybe the guy with the beard or perhaps the young woman with the Australian accent – I tried to limit my time in the living room, where the muted action played like a silent slapstick comedy of errors.
But every now and again, I'd hear someone groan or sigh or yell or whoop and I'd tiptoe back toward the LCD flat screen to see the Leafs or Penguins celebrating yet another goal in high-definition.
So while I'm not able to provide you with any worthwhile observations the day after, I will simply provide you with 10 random observations, hockey and otherwise, based on what I heard and witnessed at the party:
1. After 18 games, James Reimer had his first shaky performance. Repeat: After 18 games, James Reimer had his first shaky performance. Me, I'm cutting him some slack, thanking him for the previous 17 games that made this race possible and looking forward to No. 19.
2. The exploration industry for precious minerals and metals may, in fact, be overrun with swindlers and pan-global criminal elements.
3. Thinking about buying a Mercedes? No, me neither. But if you do, prepare to pay a small fortune for service, especially after the major parts warranty expires.
5. Should Toronto lobby the NHL to bring an immediate end to all Saturday night games next season? Is Hockey Night in Canada laced with bad karma since the opening theme changed? Why do the Leafs struggle on Saturday nights? Why don't people wear wrist watches any more? Who put this balled-up napkin with olive pits inside my blazer pocket? How on earth did I come home with only one sock even though I never took off my shoes?
6. Tender slices of roast beef with polenta on taco chips? Surprisingly delicious. Goat cheese followed immediately by carrot cake? Unsurprisingly disgusting.
7. When the Leafs surrender a goal with less than a minute to play in the first or second periods – or like last night, both – they almost never win.
8. There's a right way and a wrong way to do almost everything. Except panicking, losing your balance and wiping out on an icy porch after inexplicably mistaking an end table for a stray dog. There is no right way to do this.
9. Based on his expression last night, I'm starting to get a sick feeling about Clarke MacArthur's contract negotiations. Based on her expression at 10 p.m., I'm starting to think my wife secretly wants this team to fall short.
So let's just be grateful for the point and forget this bad goal bonanza. Weird things happen in the universe when people start wearing cake hats. Sometimes, a seesaw battle ends with the good guys stuck up in the air during a snowstorm.
The Most Important Game Of The Season™ is now less than four hours away in Atlanta, ground zero for a previous nine-goal outburst by the Leafs. So by the time we go to sleep tonight, fingers crossed, the magnificent bastards could be three points away from... you know.
How can we not stay roped inside this fairy tale?
MAIN PHOTO: VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR