Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Not Over Until We Say It Is

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

The vultures, aka the media in Toronto, are hovering over the Air Canada Centre waiting to pick at the carcass of the 2007/08 Toronto Maple Leafs – while they have written countless words and expended much energy writing off the Buds’ chances, they are waiting for the deathblow to be struck. The Leafs host the Flyers tonight in the first of a home and home series in what is absolutely a must win (no O/T win) situation. The Leafs are now in a position where they can’t even afford to give up a single point to the Flyers in either of the game – its two regulation wins, or else.

Toronto teams of years past have been characterized by heart, grit and determination – while the last 15 games have been good ones, the final twelve will determine what this group of players is really made of. It sounds cliché, but there really are some guys playing for jobs next year, and it isn’t who you would expect.

The five Maple Leafs who refused to waive their no-trade clauses have been sarcastically dubbed the “Fab Five” by the Toronto media – Sundin, Kaberle, McCabe, Tucker and Kubina. The final twelve games will be huge for all of them, particularly with a new GM coming on board this summer (Welcome Pope Brian I).

In Mats Sundin’s case – his teammates will actually be auditioning for him, looking to show him that this group of misfits have enough upside to convince him to come back for another two years – as things were at the trade deadline, it is all up to Mats.

In the case of McCabe and Kubina – they will have to produce Herculean efforts to convince a new GM that they deserve to be on the 08/09 team at their salary level. While McCabe’s no movement clause still stands – the next GM will likely convince McCabe that it is better to move on, rather than risk the embarrassment of being a healthy scratch. Kubina’s situation is much more tenuous – his NTC is waived if the Leafs don’t make the playoffs, and a guy like Hockey God will look to move him quickly and for just about anything in order to get that $5M off the books.

The talk is the market for Darcy Tucker was limited and lukewarm at best last month - while that likely guarantees that Tucker sticks around in 08/09, these last twelve games could go a long way to determining where he ends up on next year’s depth chart – as things stand right now, he can’t be considered as much more than a 3rd line LW; a poor finish could see him drop down to fourth line status (call it the Tie Domi effect – Leaf Nation knows of what I speak).

Two other players should be feeling the heat – forwards Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky could be moved in the off-season (remember Pope Brian I’s penchant for North American players). Ponikarovsky is in the midst of yet another season of not reaching his potential and is now a candidate to be moved, a la Freddie Modin; Antropov is having a career year, but the question is can he stay healthy enough in the future to show that this year wasn’t a fluke?

As mentioned, the last twelve games will go a long way to sorting things out for the 2008/09 season (if not a run at the playoffs). While everyone wants to write them off – I leave you (Leaf Nation) with the immortal words of Bluto

It Ain’t Over

Two of the shakiest teams in the NHL face off tonight in the land of the Tards as Ottawa hosts Hazel’s SECOND favourite team, the Boston Bruins. The Tards go into the game with the distinction of being one of the NHL’s Worst teams over the last fifty games (that 15-2 or 16-3 start saved them from being a complete embarrassment) and the worst since January 1. The Bruins are scuffled hard to get back to being respectable after being humiliated by the likes of the Caps and Hazel’s Maple Leafs – being the beneficiaries of Donald Brashear’s brain fart late in Saturday’s game against Washington and dropping one to the Rangers.

Speaking of Saturday’s game – nice to see that Bruins D Shane Hnidy is still the same piece of crap he was when he played for the Tards. Hnidy was a tough guy on Thursday night, jumping Alexei Ponikarovsky from behind and wailing on him – but not showing the same toughness against Brashear and taking a shot to the face for his troubles. Before anyone talks about taking one for the team – Hnidy is a crapheell, he took the shot in order to avoid being fed his lunch by Brashear, plain and simple.

Calgary Flames RW Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists in a 7-3 pounding of the St. Louis Blues – good for the Maeple in the opening round of the playoffs in the yahoo pool, oh yeah, he became the Flames leading goal scorer in franchise history...that's good too.

Vancouver Canucks C Ryan Kesler scored two goals in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings – what makes him a donkey? His first goal to tie the game cost me $110 bucks on a $5 dollar lottery ticket (LA win), his second goal to end the game and prevent a shootout cost me $900 bucks on a $3 ticket. Donkey.

The week ended off on a good note (finally) with three winners on Saturday – Sunday and Monday would have been good too, had I posted. Total for the year is still ugly – too ugly to print, but hey, it is what it is (-$3,400). Staying in the NHL’s Northeast tonight for the suggested plays

Toronto over Philadelphia – see above. Leafs have to have this game tonight and Flyers have injury concerns. Lay $100 on the Buds - $125.

Edmonton over St. Louis
- see last night's Flames/Blues game? Enough said. Lay $100 on the Oil. - $150.

New Jersey over Montreal – see Boston/Ottawa. Brodeur was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars for the week, due in large part to his role in screwing the Leafs – donkey. Lay $100 on the Devils + $105.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in.

Hazel, here’s hoping things are groovy in your world.

I’m Out!


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