Maple Leafs 2010-2011: Game On(e)!

Watched the Leafs’ home opener last night; originally scheduled to be at a prenatal class, my plans changed when Spouse came down with a cold. Because of work thingys, I ended up getting home a little late, which was fine because we could PVR the game. It rocks skipping over commercials, and my timing was pretty awesome because I ended up catching up to real time right in the middle of the second intermission, so I could watch the end of the game with my virtual peeps at PPP.

From scanning the Interwebs earlier today, there seems to be a lot of angst out there about the opening ceremonies before last night’s game.  Whatever, I zoomed over most of the malarkey before the game.  Was happy to see the 48th Highlanders still a part of opening night tradition, and I stopped fast forwarding (that’s a verb, right?) when I got to the part with the water from all the ponds being collected and used to make the Leafs’ ice.

Say what you will; yes, it’s corny and cheesy, but I liked it.  I liked that the whole ice surface got turned into water by the lighting effect.  I liked it (among other reasons) because Spouse pointed out that water douses fire, and the Habs do that thing where Brian Gionta a much larger child skates around with the torch before a game, then touches it down at centre ice and sets the ice “aflame”.  Water douses fire, as sure as paper beats rock.  Eat it, Habs.

Thoughts about the game:  Gunnarsson was bad.  Schenn looked shaky at times, as did Beauchemin in the early going (though I thought Francois turned it around later in the game, with one notable exception I’ll talk about in a minute).  Komisarek was awful.  Kaberle was excellent, showing on a couple of smooth solo forays up the ice the apparently effortless way he can dart somehow calmly up ice past all (or at least most) defenders in a flash.  Terrific.  Phaneuf had a solid first game as Captain, I thought.

At forward, there was less that was remarkable.  Nice to see Tim Brent notch a goal to start this season;  it would be nice if that were some sort of omen about this mostly under-talented team adopting a lunchpail mentality and chipping in with a concerted effort to score by committee as and where it becomes necessary.  Kessel looked very good and sincerely happy to be back playing games that count.  Versteeg had some nice moments on the Power Play.  Kulemin played a solid two-way game and continues to get better.  Nice goal from Clark MacArthur; more worrisome was the somewhat underwhelming performance down the middle from Bozak and Grabovski, though neither made enormous glaring mistakes of any consequence.

More than anything, the story of that game was the steadiness of J.S. Giguere.  The Leafs were up to their old tricks, taking a late penalty and then brutally brain-cramping in the closing minute of the game.  Our defensive coverage for the final eighty or ninety seconds of that game looked as though it was planned as an homage to everybody’s carnival favourite,  the Tilt-a-Whirl, with Leaf players orbiting one another, spinning and lurching around unevenly and generally making one feel nauseous.  Francois Beauchemin in particular looked bad during this final sequence, weakly attempting to clear the puck at one point on a backhand to the right point that instead made the shallow carom off the boards and failed to clear the zone, setting the scene for one final frenetic scramble in front of Jiggy and a game-saving stop that mercifully prevented yet another Habs OT game.  That stop – it had a reassuring and cathartic quality to it, as Bruce Arthur noted in his column today.  Begone, ghost of Vesa Toskala.

One game, and one game only.  Two points under the W column, and cue the chorus of clucking MSM journalists who take time out from their shrill blizzard of sage columns pedantically warning Leaf fans (unspecified, figurative, mostly non-existent outside of talk radio) not to obsess, despair and overreact about the future of Nazem Kadri, to write a shrill blizzard of sage columns pedantically warning Leaf fans (unspecified, figurative, mostly non-existent outside of talke radio) not to obsess, celebrate and overreact about a single win in an 82-game season.

Only one game, but I’m glad hockey is back.

The Maple Leafs Song: A Video Tribute

Last week, I shared with you The Maple Leafs Song, my homage to Adam Sandler and truculence.

In honour of the commencement of the 2010-2011 NHL Regular Season tonight, I give you once again, The Maple Leafs Song – now with BRAND NEW VIDEO GOODNESS! (I learned that last bit from a marketing guy).

Spouse and I have the third installment of our pre-natal classes tonight; class begins riiiiiiiiiiiight around the time that the puck will be dropping.  I believe this was purposely arranged to reinforce for me the concept that very soon, I will never again be able to watch the Leafs, or indeed anything else I’m interested in, on TV in an uninterrupted fashion.

I will be PVR’ing the game, so friends and family can expect that I will be entering a strictly enforced zone of radio, telephone, television and Internet silence, so that I may enjoy the game without knowing its outcome. Don’t expect to convese with me in this time period, it ain’t gonna happen unless you’re sitting on the couch next to me. And even then, I’m not making any promises.

My thoughts will also be with the various gatherings of PPP users assembling at pubs, watering holes and anywhere there’s a free TV to watch the first game together. Cheers, y’all, I’m with you in spirit.

Let There Be Music – And Some Wins, Please

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I was working on something special in my secret lair.  Here it is, in honour of the 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs’ season:  The Toronto Maple Leafs Song. (Update 1:12 a.m.: I’ve been trying on and off all night to post a link to the .mp3 file on this blog, but WordPress wants me to learn new swear words instead.  So here’s a link to my Tumblr, which apparently has somewhat more delicate ears. )

I can’t believe I have spent as much time as I did over the last few days working on this thing.  With Furious G on the way in about eight weeks’ time now, and a busy early 2011 ahead of me work-wise, I have a feeling that the fooling-about time I’ve managed to scrape together over the past couple of evenings may well be the last opportunity I’ll have for a while to focus on ridiculous projects, but I hope everybody in the Barilkosphere enjoys it. If nothing else, have sympathy for the brave men of The Execrables – my PPP Phantasy Puck Team sacrificed their season in the name of this little project. I just couldn’t drag myself away from the production process long enough to pay any attention at all to the fantasy draft, and the autodrafter ended up selecting such luminaries for me as “Marc Savard and his head full of Jell-O”.

Anyway, it all started when I was fooling around, rhyming “Caputi” with “Verbeauty” (the nickname some folks at Pension Plan Puppets have for Kris Versteeg).   Before too long, I ended up going Adam Sandler on the Leafs’ lineup.

Enjoy, I hope it gives you a laugh or two.

Here are the lyrics, in case anyone is interested:

THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS SONG

Toronto is the centre of the world
Maybe not, but it’s where the Leaf flag gets unfurled
Our teams have missed the playoffs for many, many years
But this group of Leaf players is tops with the Barilkosphere.

‘Cause we’ve got filthy Phil Kessel, he’s Tyler Bozak’s wing
Kulie and Grabbo just keep on attacking
Monster and Jiggy will prove your offence lacking
While Colton Orr and Komisarek will give you a shellacking
Colby Armstrong has a job cause Matt Stajan was sent packing
Let’s hope we’ll all be cheering wins instead of Prozac-ing

We might not still be playing, when May turns into June
But that’s okay we’ll draft our way to the top
(Wait, what?) Too soon!

Tomas Kaberle makes cross-ice pass like you won’t believe
Still some folks dream of draft picks that we might receive
But I say to keep him, he’s talented and handsome
He better be – he’s passing to John Mitchell and Christian Hanson!
Francois Beauchemin, Luca Caputi
Nobody dangles like Kadri and Verbeauty!
Dion Phaneuf will do his Captain’s duty
And ladies tell me that Luke Schenn looks good in a suit-y
Mueller, Blacker and Aulie all seem like good recruitys
Ian White’s moustache is gone now but we’ve got Mike Brown’s fu manchu-ty

It might not be so bad, now that Toskala’s gone
Forget about the last few years, and help me sing this song:

I like Gunnarson’s acuity, hope Sjostrom stays here too-ity
Jeff Finger’s large annuity makes him a Marlie in perpetuity.
Let there be no ambiguity, show the Leafs that you are true-ity
Habs fans have no clue-ity, and Sens fans are sniffing glue-ity
Support your Toronto Maple Leafs, with all your ingenuity
Engage in promiscuity, if you can find someone who’ll do it-y
Just be sure there’s continuity, in your support for white and blue-ity.

Put on your white and blue
Make some noise and ballyhoo
Even if you speak Urdu
And haven’t watched hockey hitherto
Plan to use a big kazoo
Just be sure you follow through
Bang a chair with a wooden shoe
Make some noise for the white and blue
And
Go
Leafs
Go!