As for the Leafs, they have problems. That’s putting it mildly. But Burke has at least one thing in common with Ray Shero: he has a plan and he sticks to it. Burke’s tried to put his mark on this team, but has been largely handcapped by bad decisions and awful contracts handed out before his arrival. And it probably doesn’t help that Charlie is throwing pebbles at his son’s window.
But at least for Burke, lots of contracts are expiring for the Leafs this off-season, so he’ll have more room to work with.
Next year looks to be the make-or-break for Brian and his wet dreams of success.
We want Toronto to get back to the playoffs.
The ghosts of Garry Valk need to be exorcised.
And the Pens start the road trip 1-0. Huge.
Minnesota on Monday. Should be interesting.
Huge performance by Maria T.
She also mentioned that some of the Pens acknowledged the Charlie sign during warm-ups.
As is par when the Penguins play in Toronto on a Saturday night, the start of the game was delayed like 10 minutes.
This time it was because Don Van Massenhoven was getting some award for reffing his 1,000th game.
He’ll have to push his Hitler Lookalike Trophy aside to make room for it on his mantel.
He was a policeman for 10 years before being a ref. Someone likes to be the boss.
So, DVM gets his shit, and the game is set to go.
Oh, no, wait. It’s open-mike night at the Air Canada Centre.
Some bitch comes out and sucks another 8 minutes out of the universe by going to town on the anthems.
Finally, the game starts. And right off the bat, Crosby and Guerin get a 2-on-1.
Gustavsson is there to gobble up the shot like a big plate of lutefisk.
The Pens dominate early on. Steiggy says the Pens have to get back to blocking shots.
From his lips to Disco’s ears apparently, because from then on, the Pens block more shots than that dude who got shot in Air Force One.
Fleury shuts down Wallin and Hagman on two good chances. Sign of things to come.
Back and forth stuff for a while.
Later, Gustavsson stones Crosby flying down the wing.
That old feeling of “Is this clown gonna steal a win from the Pens this game?” creeped in.
That feeling ended when Crosby makes some surreal backhand pass to Guerin.
Guerin tries to stop it with his skate, and it goes in.
That’s what happens when you don’t even know the pass is coming.
G-g-g-oal c-c-c-counts. 1-0.
Give the Leafs credit, though. They could’ve easily packed it in after that. But they didn’t. But they should’ve.
Leafs get a couple good shifts, but nothing comes of it.
They manage to break some dude’s camera
Exelby goes to the box.
Suddenly, it’s the showdown everyone’s been wating for: the 30th-ranked powerplay vs. the 30th-ranked penalty kill.
At one point, Sid passes up a nice shot opportunity to make a sweet pass to Billy G, who shanks the shot when his stick snaps in two.
If there’s a better illustration of the powerplay as a whole right now, we can’t think of it.
The Leafs penalty kill is awful. Seriously, awful. Beyond even joking about awful.
They basically stand in one place and sort of wave their sticks around.
Charlie calls that penalty kill “Friday night.”
Around this time, something happens to Orpik. No one ever says what, except that he won’t return for the game. Oh, crap.
The Leafs get momentum from the penalty kill and apply pressure.
Gustavsson holds the fort when the Pens get chances. Eventually the Leafs draw a penalty.
Kessel with a sick pass to a wide-open Matt Stajan. He gets a wicked shot from about 10 feet away. No chance. 1-1.
MAF skates to the Pens bench and says, “No more rats.”
The Leafs come out flying. A goal was coming.
But MAF stands tall. If there was anything bigger than MAF holding down the fort in the second, it was his remarkable third period.
Caputi gets a brilliant chance on the doorstep, but the Monster starts coming up with his own saves.
Letang got jobbed in there with a Monster save, too.
J.R. Ewing gets a break in on Fleury. Eaton makes the defensive play of the year to get back and knock it away.
Huge play. Absolutely cannot overstate how critical that was.
Francois Beauchemin goes to the box. His last name translates to “beautiful way.”
It’s a good ice-breaker when meeting a girl, but it doesn’t change the fact you belong in the Western Conference.
Leafs come back with momentum again, but Fleury shuts them down.
Pens to the powerplay for a third time. They had to score here.
Statistically, they were due since the Leafs were only killing about 2 out of every three powerplays.
And then came something that even SportsCenter in the U.S. felt worthy enough to mention.
On the PP, Gonchar with a big slapper that you just knew had gone in.
(By the way, job Errey if you want, but he’s hardly ever wrong in these situations)
So it was no big deal when the Leafs headed the other way and Ponikarovsky gets behind the defense.
And it was no big deal when Poni gets hooked by Gonchar.
And it was no big deal when Hoven points to center ice in signaling a pending penalty shot for Poni.
But apparently everything was a big deal.
The whistle following Gonchar’s hook allows, well, Toronto to look at the Gonchar slapper.
Good goal. 2-1.
We all remember TK’s first NHL goal on the Island where they basically had to take like 5 minutes off the clock or something once they went back and saw Kennedy has scored.
So we expected the same deal here. Everything after the goal gets washed.
But in came the referees’ and their knowledge of the intricacies of the NHL rulebook.
The first sentence of the third paragraph is what this was all about.
According to the other parts of this rule, the clock stops at 14:44 when Gonchar scores.
If Poni is awarded a penalty shot and potential goal, you would have two goals at the 14:44 mark.
That can’t happen.
But Gonchar did, in fact, hook Poni.
And according to the 4th paragraph, the penalty is assessed.
In staying with the 4th paragraph…
How insane is it that if the Leafs took a penalty in between Gonch’s goal and Gonch’s hook, the penalty would not have been assessed?
No clue why Wilson was flipping out in game. After the game, Toronto coach Ron Wilson said the rule was based on “flawed logic.”
So is your face.
If you’re an NHL coach, you should know the rules. Case closed.
Doesn’t matter how intricate the rules are. Learn them.
Great job by the refs.
After everything, Gonchar’s penalty was killed before you knew it.
Malkin collects a puck. Back to Gonch on the point. Boom. 3-1.
Gonch goes to the box after the goal just to be a dick.
The third period was the Fleury show.
F Crosby’s goal. That was all MAF.
Ponikarovsky comes to the net, but Fleury pokes it away beautifully. It comes right to Gonchar. Gonch to Dupuis. Dupuis to Sid.
Sid bears down on the D.
He puts the puck through the D and gets a fortuitous bounce off a d-man’s skate.
Sid and Monster both lunge at the puck with pokechecks. Crosby wins.
Obviously we aren’t jobbing Crosby.
But if Gustavsson doesn’t go for this poke, this is still a 3-1 game.
It’s gonna be on highlight reels for some reason.
If you want a highlight, go see Crosby’s pass to set up Guerin’s goal in the 1st.
The rest of the period had two highlights. One was Fedotenko boarding Ian White.
This prompted Colton Orr to challenge Fedotenko to a fight. Snore.
The other highlight was the story of the rest of the period. It was all about one man: Marc-Andre Fleury.
If a picture is worth a thousand words and there are traditionally 29.97 frames per second in motion-picture…
MAF’s third period was worth 35,964,000 words. Exactly.