Although Santa didn't leave me front row tickets, nonetheless it'll be a Saturday night to remember in front of the ol' tv set. On an unrelated note, if I were a broadcaster and I were attempting to talk to Leafs Nation, I certainly would not have Bill Watters, the team's self-appointed critic, in front of my cameras. He, after all, convinced the team to draft a friend of the family, a young man called Jeff Ware ahead of Marc Savard.
Watters is a goof. He was back then, and he is still. But I digress. Now back the CBC and more important reasons why the Leafs are on the road to The Cup...
In addition to the obvious oft-stated reasons that typically accompany this matchup of two Original Six teams, related to their long and storied history of truculence, I believe in this day and age there are five good reasons why the Toronto Maple Leafs will be boxing the Habs all around the rink tonight, and likely why they call it Boxing Day anyway.
First, our sniper Phil "The Thrill" Kessel will wake up from his Chara-induced and peculiar slumber of late, and actually score a nice goal or two with that wicked shot of his, which will inspire and ignite the potent Leafs offence. In the aftermath, shock and awe is the net result, and on the road we go.
Second, Mr Komiserik and Mr Grabovski, knowing they each truly have something to prove to Leafs fans as the season wears on, will have highlight nights. The former had an admittedly dismal start to the season, and the latter is looking all too pretty lately - and plays much better when bloodied... like Mr Stajan.
Speaking of highlights and on the opposite end of the spectrum lowlights, all teams use replay reels to reinforce the requisite elemental points of the game. Winning, as we all know, is not about simply "trying harder" anymore, it's about enforced discipline. Thus, third, in this respect Coach Wilson has proved no one (except Orr) is immune to spending a few nights in the press box to adjust and balance the attitudes of either underperforming or undisciplined players.
Fourth, I used to like Bob Gainey as player, but I love him as a GM of the Habs. He's succeeding in making them a worst team than before. Let's keep in mind, over the last 10 games, the teams share similar 5-4-1 records. Yes indeed, I predict our vastly improved Leafs will finish ahead in the standings next year.
Lastly, the fifth reason I believe The Leafs will prevail over their much-ballyhooed enemy is the wonderful Front Office war that is being waged by both teams. In a year that the vaunted Habs are celebrating a centenary of funny uniforms, the Leafs have evolved their "passion that unites" statement into a season of competitively instilling pride on several levels.
It is for this reason alone: pride, aside from all their marketing staff prodding them each day to live up to the hype in this Burke era of new tough guys, that The Leafs will emerge victorious and embark on a winning streak to begin the New Year as they head down the stretch, on their way to The Cup... and to finally shut Watters up, if that is possible.
Well, like my old mum used to say: "The empty can makes the most noise."
Time for another ale.