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I’m pretty sure that I can just go back to last year and copy the same post… or the year before that.. or even the year before that… It’s not that the Leafs’ season has come to an end… but their playoff hopes certainly have. (OK, let’s be honest… any chance of the Toronto Maple Leafs making the playoffs died long before they were “mathematically eliminated from playoff contention”)
It’s not to say that there haven’t been sparks of hope at various points throughout the season. I can remember the day that I exclaimed to anyone who would listen “Toronto is #1 in the League! Toronto is #1 in the League!” Yeah… that was a good day. I should have taken a screenshot of those standings. As I look at the standings now, I see that Toronto is second last in the Eastern Conference.
The only consolation is that the Montreal Canadiens are in last place!
Well we now know who is heading to Vancouver for Wednesday’s game! After the Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night 1-0 to clinch the series in seven games, the stage is set to finally bring the Stanley Cup back to its rightful home… Canada!
It’s been far too long. As my Canadiens friends delight in reminding me, Montreal was the last Canadian team to bring the Cup home. Since then I’ve watched as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Ottawa all made it to the final… only to be bested by their respective opponents. (You may have noticed that my beloved Maple Leafs are the only Canadian team not to tease me… Thank you for your consistency, Toronto!) Well this year that is going to change. The Canucks finished the season in top spot, taking home the Presidents’ Trophy for the most points. That’s only the beginning! Sure, they suffered a tiny hiccup in the opening round against the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks. Taking that series to Game 7 certainly didn’t give me any warm, fuzzy feelings about the Canucks’ ability to go all the way. That’s all water under the bridge now.
It’s time to start cheering again, Canada!
It’s the time of year again! Stanley Cup playoff time! And once again, I am going to have to enjoy the annual ritual without my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs in the running. I know… I know… how long has it been since they’ve even made the playoffs? I’m too lazy to go look it up, but I know that it’s nearing 10 years.
Actually, this year it’s not only the absesnce of the Maple Leafs that is troubling. There is a very noticeable lack of Canadian teams in the playoff hunt. Ottawa was worse than Toronto this year! Edmonton was just as bad as they were last year. Even Calgary, which normally is fairly strong, is practicing their golf swing early. That leaves Montreal in the east, and Vancouver in the west. It pains me to cheer for the Habs, but I will. My real hope, though, is on the Vancouver Canucks… they’re a very strong team this year, and finished at the top of the standings.
Maybe this is their year?
Go Canucks, Go! (and yeah.. the Habs too…)
Of everything on my list, I realize that this may be the one thing that you can not deliver. The holy grail of Christmas wishes…
But Santa… please… 1967 is a long time. I’m a patient man, but that’s even before my time. I continue to say “This is our year”… and I believe it… year after year… yet by the end of each NHL hockey season, I’m left sitting there feeling empty. And I’m not alone! The entire Leaf Nation… our collective wish is this:
A Stanley Cup.
I think we’ve paid our dues.
I’ve been so hung-up the last few days about my car woes that I completely forgot that the last few NHL playoff slots were finally filled and the playoffs start tonight! As I scan through the list, I can’t help but notice that my Maple Leafs appear to be absent. AGAIN!? Geeze, and here I thought that this was going to be their year. Didn’t I even proclaim that in a post last fall? Yeah… Oh well, there’s always next year!
Pretty slim pickin’s for Canadians eager to see the Stanley Cup return to its rightful homeland. In the West, only the Vancouver Canucks made it in. I’ve always liked Vancouver. I still remember watching them make it to the final round many many years ago. In more recent years they always seem to have a decent-enough team, but fail to find their stride when it comes to the playoffs. Maybe this year will be different? If so, Luongo has to be on top of his game. They’re playing the Los Angeles Kings, a team I know nothing about and will be curious to see. I won’t even make a prediction on this one.
It’s a shame that the Calgary Flames didn’t squeeze in. I’ve always liked them. They play some great playoff hockey. Well, not this year! As for the Edmonton Oilers.. what the hell happened to them this year? Wow… but I see they have the first draft pick, so it’s a good time for them to start rebuilding. Look how well it’s worked for Toronto!
Things are a little better in the East, but not much. The Montreal Canadiens managed to barely squeak in, and are up against the President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. Good luck with that. Washington is a wrecking ball this year. I wish my Canadiens-fans friends a speedy recovery. Don’t get me wrong. I may be a diehard Leafs fan now, but I always cheer for any Canadian team that makes it into the playoffs. I’m hoping for an upset against the Caps, but I’m preparing to see them destroyed early. (Washington in 5 games)
The Ottawa Senators are running in the middle of the pack, having placed 5th. That’s not a bad place to be. They’re up against the defending champions Sydney Crosby and his Pittsburg Penguins. The Senators are another team that generally does well through the year, and then hits a brick wall in the playoffs. In the past it’s been an issue with goaltending. I haven’t followed the Senators closely enough to know how they’ve addressed that this year. I’m expecting this series to go all the way, and give the nod to the Pens. (Pittsburg in 7 games)
All in all, I’m excited to have playoff hockey back again. I do wish that my new television was hooked up to something that actually received a signal though! I may be forced to watch the games on a smaller backup TV, or get a receiver.
He shoots, he scores!
Is there anything more heart-wrenching that getting your hopes up for your favourite hockey team, only to be let down yet again!? OK, sure.. there are a hell of a lot of worse things than that… but for us Leafs, the proverbial kick in the balls year after year doesn’t get any easier.
This year, we’re in solid last place. Not last in our division. Last in the entire league. But that’s fine… we’ve got nowhere else to go but upwards! It’s a long season, and surely there’s gotta be a team out there that we can beat! Right?
Until that happens, I have to wear my thick skin, while listening to the Canadiens fans babble about how much less they suck than the Leafs!
Here’s a little something floating around the office…
Championship Sports Rings:
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Thick skin… must wear the thick skin…
I know that it’s been a “home victory” series, but I still wasn’t feeling too confident about last night’s game between the Penguins and the Red Wings. Sure, Game 6 might have been in Pittsburg, but after demolishing the Penguins 5-0 only 3 nights earlier, I figured that Detroit probably carried enough momentum to finish them off, even if it did go against the established pattern of the home team winning. I was pleasantly surprised!
So now we’ve got a Game 7. The great thing about Game 7s is that nothing else matters. Sure, the home crowd is a factor, but when you really get down to it… it’s 60 minutes of hockey, and none of the other games really matter. I’m sure that Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburg Penguins are telling themselves the same thing.
Go out, play hard, and take Lord Stanley’s Cup out of Hockeytown.
Go Pens Go!