I got a phone call at around ten to seven this evening. It was from my aunt, on behalf of an uncle who didn’t have my phone number. Up for grabs? A pair of Leafs tickets. The cost? Free. I said no; concluding that this team wasn’t worth picking up the tickets and heading down to the Air Canada Centre to watch. The fans seemed to feel the same way, with this being a rare non-sellout. To those who did go, they left with the same empty feeling the team has left for months, falling 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild.
So, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t so much as held a lead in the past seven games. Forget winning, I’m talking even a few seconds of having more goals scored than there opponents. This trend continued tonight, as late in the first period, Charlie Coyle opened the scoring, taking advantage of a disastrous amount of stumbling and bad positioning after a faceoff. The Wild kept the momentum going from there, outshooting the Leafs (of course) until it was time to strike again.
In this case, Thomas Vanek partied like it was 2008 after scoring his 19th of the season. Vanek has been the opposite of the Leafs, slowly but surely building his production back up after a poor start to the year. In this case, he took advantage of the Leafs being slow to get back into the defensive zone, and Eric Brewer being too focused on finishing a check to cover the puck.
Jake Gardiner appeared to make a game out of this with six and a half minutes to go, rushing up with Joffrey Lupul and eventually picking up a rebound to bring the Leafs within one. However, that was the last goal of the game, as the two teams went into ceasefire mode from there.
Jonathan Bernier hasn’t had a lot of good games lately, so I think it’s worth giving credit where it’s due. His 30 saves on 32 shots delayed the inevitable, and was along the lines of what many expect out of him. I’m sure many would be happy with seeing more of those in the past few games as long as he doesn’t, you know, start stealing games.
Summing it Up
I’m starting to wonder if the Leafs will ever be ahead in a hockey game ever again. This was another flat performance for a team that has flatlined, and there seems to be no end in sight. I know it’s tough to say when you’re rooting for a tank scenario, but with eight games to go and the team being seven points ahead of Edmonton, you begin to almost hope they pull out one last hurrah before the season ends; something, anything to make you feel a little happy that you spent hours watching them.
The Leafs will take another crack at success on Thursday, when they face the Florida Panthers.