It was bound to happen some time, why not let an average team be the one to do it? By every definition right now, losing this game would have been acceptable under the circumstances it was played. Between the fact that it was the fourth game in six nights and the near 2500 miles of travel over the past week, two out of three was likely the best to be expected on the weekdays. Out of all the excuses that made this game alright to lose, there was no excuse for anything that the Maple Leafs did on the ice tonight.
Full credit to the Dallas Stars for making the most of the Leafs leisurely skate through the Lone Star State. Last week I wrote about the night that John Brophy lost his mind in the hallways of Maple Leafs Gardens setting a record for the number of expletives in a post-game interview. Those Leafs looked better than the ones on the ice tonight, and ironically they were playing against the same team, only displaced about seven states south.
Given the tear Toronto has been on, it is hard to be tough on them for the letdown, but the overall play in almost all but two of the wins has been less than stellar. They are still outshot with regularity, and contrary to the belief of those that despise statistics of any kind, the quantity and quality of the shots they give up are of a huge concern. Tonight’s result is exactly what more than half of their wins this season would look like with pedestrian goaltending.
On to the game:
- Nazem Kadri may have to speak to Brendan Shanahan about the slash he delivered to Dallas Star Antoine Roussel. It beared strong resemblance to the lumberjack swing that Phil Kessel took at John Scott which cost the Leaf sniper a preseason game. My guess would be that it is just a fine, but given Kadri’s newly minted status of repeat offender after running Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom over, he may have to sit for a game or two
- Shanahan may also be speaking with Colton Orr. While the hit appeared to be clean, the shot from glass side of him running Cody Eakin into the glass does show the elbow rise into the face area of the Dallas forward. My guess is that this one draws nothing, which is unfortunate because it would be a shame if a player with more skill and ability had to take the 7:16 of ice time that Orr occupies. He provides far too little, far too often.
- The video crew at the American Airlines Center sure likes to crack jokes. Bieber’s mug shot on the video board, Rob Ford videos during commercials, all kinds of slapstick routines that have become very typical in North American sports. While understanding that the above mentioned figures do have a very public image, it is rather unfortunate that the misfortune of a couple of people becomes a symbol for a team’s inability to perform in a game. Make no mistake, Ford and Bieber both have very serious and obvious problems, and both likely need somebody to step up and offer them the appropriate help. The two crave attention, which is more than likely what the video crew at the AAC provided. The saddest part of the whole ordeal is that the best laughs directed towards Toronto tonight were those generated by the performance of their listless Maple Leafs.
- As always, it has been a tradition for me to name a player on the Leafs as player of the game, and tonight was difficult. Not much that the Maple Leafs did was worth noting, but a single play drew enough attention to merit the mention. Tonight’s Maddie’s Mark player of the game will be Tim Gleason. For a team that loves to give the appearance of cohesion, they seldom ever offer any evidence of it. They do have the two meatheads (Orr and Frazer McLaren) that go out and do the bear-on-a-tricycle routine with other meatheads that opponents frequently provide, but the crease clearing that used to be a regular occurrence. Tim Gleason saw snow directed towards his goalie, and simply provided a love tap to the ice. For the rarest of displays of team truculence, this really was a best day ever for Gleason. For more information on how you can provide many more best days ever for sick young children, visit www.maddiesmark.org.