Game 65: FLOATING ON AIR
I think my body is in shock. Or my brain is short-circuiting, failing to make sense of what my eyes witnessed tonight.
Did the Leafs just saunter into the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and exit with two points? Did they just beat the top Eastern team in their own building after beating Pittsburgh yesterday?
I'm not the only one in shock. Look at the Flyer fans in the picture above.
The mustachioed fellow in the captain jersey looks like someone drove off with his truck at a gas station while he was inside paying. The guy in the black sweater and blue collar looks like his girlfriend just texted to say she's sleeping with his cousin. And look at the guy behind him, in that weird-patterned cream shirt. He looks like someone just force-fed him an entire rutabaga and then pummeled him with a bag of grapefruits.
Now look at the magnificent bastards in the foreground.
There are 11 seconds left in the second period. Dion Phaneuf has just scored to tie the game at two. He has just screamed so loud, it damaged TV microphones in the upper bowl. And now he is hugging Mikhail Grabovski with an enthusiasm usually reserved for high school sweethearts reunited after 50 years of wrongful imprisonment.
Look at them! They are levitating! They are floating on air!
You know, there have been many highs this season. These guys in blue and white have made us proud on many occasions. But tonight, my God, they upped the ante.
Since my body is in shock and my mind is fried, let's do this recap with pictures:
This image was snapped seconds after Darryl Boyce scored the game winning goal with less than five minutes left in the third.
Note what Colby Armstrong is doing here. Unlike Boyce, Armstrong was never on his knees during this play. Yet he is about to join Boyce in hallelujah formation because that's what great teammates do when the universe suddenly aligns and the once improbable becomes downright palpable.
This was the view of Boyce's goal from... heaven.
<--- "How did that go in?"
<--- "I thought you had him!"
<--- "I don't know how he did that!"
<--- "Colby! Come pray with me!"
3. CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Scott Hartnell? Yeah, he has a 126 penalty minutes. Keith Aulie? He's never fought before in the NHL.
And yet in this image, taken at 1:41 of the second, Hartnell starts a scrap, lands a punch and then eats a half-dozen bombs served up from Aulie's right fist.
When the linesmen jump in, Hartnell is curled up on the ice like an old sleeping bag and the Leafs are seriously fired up.
Hey! Look, it's Kris Versteeg!
In this image, the fellow with the casual attitude and ornamental mouth guard, taps in his second goal of the game.
Long story short: The Leafs are still undefeated when Versteeg scores.
(If you see his car in Philly, please find a dusty spot and scrawl: "HA HA!")
What can we say about James Reimer that we don't already say 137 times a day?
He stopped 28 of 30 shots. He made clutch saves in every period, including in the final minute to preserve Toronto's 3-2 win.
He has not stopped smiling since he arrived in town. And he seems to emit an invisible chemical that calms his team while also giving them strength and confidence, no matter what the situation.
Put it this way: In seven of his 12 wins, including this one tonight, the other team has scored first and it hasn't made one bit of difference.
So the momentum continues. The lemon squares are getting moldy. And this team is riding a tsunami that shows no signs of slowing down.
I leave you with one more picture:
MAIN PHOTO: MATT SLOCUM/ASSOCIATED PRESS