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:


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

Leafs Beat Lightning, Masks Fool Bowen Again

Leafs/Lightning tonight:  I missed the first period because of a hellish day at work.  I tweeted to my peeps that at the end of the workday, I basically felt as though I’d been paroled from the circus.  Reading through the Twitter messages on the game, though, it seemed to me that the Leafs likely played reasonably well in the first and were somewhat unfortunate to be down 1-0.

Saw the second and third periods, and the overtime too.  Some thoughts:

  • J.S. Giguere needs to be tied to the crossbar.  I’m not harshing on Jiggy in general;  he made a great save in the OT on Lecavalier’s quasi-breakaway.  I’m not even talking about the play in OT where he chased after a loose puck after Stalberg turned it over up ice.  I know that he pretty much had to race for that puck, though the Leafs were lucky that the Lightning couldn’t hit a wide open cage when his clearing attempt was cut off.  In the second and third periods though, he handled the puck like Tiger Woods handles an Escalade. (Thank you, I’m here all week, please don’t forget to tip your server). Bottom line:  though Jiggy has played reasonably well and has been a vast improvement over Vesa “I Wouldn’t Have Thought That Had a Chance” Toskala, the more I see Giguere out to get stick on puck, the more I think I am in favour of the trapezoid rule;
  • Nikolai Kulemin is money, baby.  Dollars, pesos, rubles, you name it, he is cash money.  That is all;
  • Loved the game Dion Phaneuf played.  Carl Gunnarsson too;
  • It’s important not to read too much into this win over the Lightning – beating a playoff bubble team that has about as much success outside of Florida as pink and green aluminum siding – but the Leafs showed speed, determination and passion yet again.  This team is beginning to believe that they can win games with the present collection of personnel.  They’re wrong about that, but it’s a step in the right direction and when the overall talent level is improved a little, up front especially, that little bit of confidence can go a long way towards creating a dangerous team.

All in all, it was another performance that, regardless of its defensive warts, proved that the Leafs might be accused of having questionable talent, but can’t be accused of exhibiting minimal effort.

As for the broadcast crew, I noticed that for the second time in as many games Joe Bowen was unable to correctly  distinguish between a Leaf defenceman and a Leaf goaltender.  This time, he has Francois Beauchemin making a save on Vincent Lecavalier OT quasi-breakaway.  I took a lot of crap from Joe Bowen fans as a result of yesterday’s post;  again I say that I’m a Joe Bow fan myself, but I think we’re entitled to expect him to be able to articulate the name of the Maple Leaf netminder with some degree of regularity and reliability at this point in the season.  Watch the YouTube clip below.  The first segment shows Giguere chasing the loose puck after Stalberg’s turnover;  Bowen gets this bit right.  In the second segment, though, rather than Jiggy he has other French guy Francois Beauchemin making the save on Lecavalier.  Again, I’m not saying this means Joe Bowen is a bad broadcaster who doesn’t deserve to be on TV. I am saying that he’s gotta bring his game up a little bit, though.

Welcome, Hope. We Thought You’d Never Get Here.

It was only one game.  One game in another lost season;  one game against a (recently) struggling Eastern Conference opponent and their backup goaltender.

Still, tonight’s 3-0 Leaf victory finally gave more than a little reason for hope to long-suffering Leaf fans.  There was a goaltender in our net who made saves and who seemed confident about it.  There was a beast of defenceman, Phaneuf, thumping offensive interlopers.  Nikolai Kulemin was driving to the net, taking the puck through the middle of the ice decisively and in such a way as to create some worried moments for opposition defenders.  Frederik Sjostrom showed some determination and self-sacrifice on the penalty kill and – for what may be the first time this year, at least for a Maple Leaf defender – forcing an opposition defenseman to abort the plan to shoot and dump off a “second-best” pass instead.  There was a power play goal from Francois Beauchemin.

More generally, for the very first time this year, our team came out ready to play from the opening faceoff.  If this trade has changed nothing else but the Leafs’ alarming tendency to tentatively piss away at least the first ten minutes of every game, frequently surrendering the lead and always ceding the momentum, it will have been worth it.

It was only one game; there are no guarantees that this widespread improvement will last.  A lot of the numbers suggest that there are still lots of difficult times ahead for a Maple Leafs time that has little by way of  personnel on the forward lines who have proven they can score in the NHL (at least beyond Phil Kessel).   The goaltender’s performance has been trending downwards for a while, and the defence have struggled to shut the door on a consistent basis.  All of these things demand that one keep perspective and remember that you cannot infer the existence of a trend from a small sample size of data.  It was only one game.  For the first time this year, though, I felt like watching one Leaf game tonight wasn’t enough.


As an aside, shoutouts to eyebleaf of Sports in the City who (fittingly enough) headed off for a lengthy trip to India earlier this evening.  I say “fittingly enough” because eye has been one of the few consistently positive voices in the Barilkosphere;  there is something fitting about eye beginning a lengthy holiday on the very day that hope seemed to walk in the front door of the Air Canada Centre for the first time in a long time.  After working so diligently over the last couple of years to ensure that at least some of us can see the bright side of things, eye can finally move on to other adventures.  Safe travels, brother, you will be missed in these parts, but we look forward to your return.

Introducing Happiness: Nikolai Kulemin

As I am currently disintegrating  into a small pile of trembling viscous goo under the combined pressures of a ridiculous workload at the office and the insanity of trying to make a Christmas in the paltry few minutes remaining to me afterwards, this is not going to be a long or particularly entertaining post.  Nevertheless, after collapsing like a pile of dirty laundry on the couch in front of the Leaf game tonight, I am moved to tippy-tap a thing or two.

I know there will be some gnashing of teeth in the Barilkosphere about OT loss to Buffalo tonight;  yes, there should have been someone in front of the net there when Derek Roy potted the winner, and I’m looking in the general direction of Francois “Happy Trails” Beauchemin when I say that.  Yes, it’s a bummer to lose to a divisional rival (and its apparently super-fucking-human goalie) like seventy-eight times in a row, but there are bigger pictures to see, larger fish to fry, and more metaphors to mix.  In short, there are reasons to take heart.

Hear me, Leafs fans.  Tonight:

  • On a Tuesday night matchup in late December, in a game that would be their third in four nights, the Leafs brought effort and forechecked the crap out of a Sabres team that has been their nemesis for oh, approximately nine years.  In years gone by, Tuesday night + 3rd game in four nights + pre-Christmas ennui = 9-1 shellacking led by a four goal third period from the Sabres’ team bus driver;
  • Viktor Stalberg potted a beauty and may still have the use of both shoulders;
  • the Monster raised everybody’s Christmas spirits by allowing the Sabres to ring enough pucks off the posts behind him to play the Carol of the Bells.  He also battled through some questionable play to post another solid outing without a visit to the cardiologist; and

It’s the last point I want to really focus on.  I’ve been waiting for Kulemin to break out in a way that doesn’t involve a visit to the dermatologist and I think he is now absolutely poised to take his game to the next level.   If he plays every game in his career like he did tonight, it will be a long and fruitful one in Maple Leaf Blue & White, that’s for sure.  Kulemin was on the forecheck aggressively and with physicality throughout the game, showing excellent anticipation and then following through with the physical effort to get himself into the right spots at the right times.  He was the direct cause of several Buffalo turnovers.  He took a tremendous hit along the boards to chip the puck out and generate the rush that produced the second Leafs goal.  He was also quite responsible defensively and used his body to separate the Sabres from the puck, not shying away from some tough customers like Mike Grier.  Terrific game from this young guy.

Whatever, we could’ve had another point, yadda yadda yadda, but I really liked what I saw out of this kid tonight.  Best game he’s played in a Leaf uniform.