Oh hells yes! Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! As both of you may recall, some of the more astute (ahem) observers of our little club postulated that in order to be successful, the boys would have to work their asses off. I'm happy to report that Coach Craig has a firm grasp of the obvious and instructed his charges accordingly. The difference is, this time, they actually listened.
Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
- From all accounts, Swedes are a stolid and practical lot. Lord knows the number of allan keys cluttering my tool box can attest to that fact. So the only logical answer as to why they would design a state of the art hockey arena, and make it look like a giant golf ball is...they must be Leaf fans. Thank you! Thank you very much. I'll be here until Thursday. Try the veal.
- I generally don't pay much attention to what the competition committee comes up with over the summer (unless it has something to do with Brendan Shanahan saying something stupid), but I must compliment them on their tweaking this year. The two minor rule changes regarding guaranteed offensive zone face-offs on delayed penalties and delaying commercial breaks on icings are nothing short of brilliant. The first, because it allows for more creativity when the goalie is pulled, and the second because it will shorten the amount of time Pierre McGuire can yell at us.
- The name is Dany...but my friends call me "Heater": Two games, three goals (47 to go!) including punching a hole clear through Marc Andre-Fleury on one of the prettiest power play goals you'll ever see. But that's not what has me inappropriately aroused. No, it's this. Late in the 2nd, with the Penguins on the power play in a one goal game, our $45 million superstar threw himself in front of a point shot and got the block. I'll leave you to contemplate the "A" on his jersey while I clean up the mess on my television screen. And ceiling.
- The Ice Man cometh: Alex Auld is six feet, five inches tall. He moves about the crease with all of the speed and grace of a snow plow. And all he did was hold two of the most dangerous players on one of the most dangerously offensive teams in the league at bay for 59 minutes and 59 seconds. He was calm. He was cool. Our other guy? Um...not so much. I love the smell of goalie controversies in the morning!
- If you ask nicely, maybe MAF will give you the puck: Congratulations to Jesse Winchester, who capped off a truly stellar debut with his first (regular season) NHL point when he assisted on Verms' breakaway goal in the third. Strong on the puck, got his nose dirtied, started going hard to the net...fantastic job Jesse. No, really. Of course you do realize that had your little blind back pass that started the play gone the other way, you would be feeling the point of my pen in your eye socket, right? So we're agreed. That's just the kind of hypersensitive prick I am.
- Oh no you di-INT!: If there is one play that perfectly illustrates the fact that we are not the Sens of old, it was Big Rig putting Matt Cooke on his ass after Mr. Cooke (thanks for the power plays, putz!) took exception to The Captain's attempt to teach Max Talbot to keep his head up when coming down the trolley tracks. Contrast that reaction with the aftermath of Mark Bell's hit on Alfie last March (where our boys basically stood around and pushed stuff) or how Steve Downie basically got away with attempted murder, and that's all the rest of the league needs to know.
- Um...I hear the beer was warm?: Not a damn one. I'll even overlook letting Orpik off the hook for running Roto Ruutu and The Captain from behind with no retaliation (although I will file it away for December 6th). Breathe it in, boys. This won't happen very often.
Three out of four points in the first two games. Not bad, but considering what happened yesterday, there is a wee caveat. Coach, your first job after that pressurized mettle tube hits the runway tomorrow is to take the tape from this game and make about 50 copies. Give it to everyone on the team, including the water boys, with orders that they are to watch it every night before they go to bed. The tender ministrations of their wives/girlfriends/miscellaneouses (hey, I don't know what the water boys are into) can wait. This it too important. If we're going to go anywhere at all this year, we need 80 more efforts just like it.
Six days hence, Saturday, October 11th, coast to coast on the Cee-Bee-Cee. In case flying halfway to nowhere and eating salted herring weren't enough, our home opener comes against the defending Stanley Cup Champs, heavy favourites to repeat, and general schoolyard bullies, the Detroit Red Wings. Thanks Gary! On the upside, getting them this early in the season can only improve our chances. As was proven last season, games in October mean squat in the greater scheme of things. We can only hope they feel the same way.
Behind Enemy Lines:
Let's give a warm, and above all, humble, welcome to Behind The Jersey, the grand-daddy of all Red Wing blogs. Everything you ever wanted to know about Chris Chelios' addiction to prune juice and the seniors' discounts at the Wallgreen's can be found here. Remember when this game was being hyped as a Cup preview? Yeah...good times.