Maple Leafs-Blackhawks: Toronto Looks to Release Pent-Up Frustration

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008

We all know the score of the last game should have been 7-3 for the Leafs. 

But due to the goalposts, it was not to be. 

It's nice to see the forwards trying to pick corners, as opposed to slapping aimlessly into the pads.  And speaking of nice, it's nice to see Kulemin let one or two shots go in a game.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again—he's got a killa shot.  If Wendel could give him some pointers on the classic snap shot, we'd be on our way to grooming a really decent sniper.

The problem with my estimations of greatness relates to of course the impending arrival of Mr Burke, and his intention to Canadianify the team with some big, bruising bodies, while bidding adieu to some of the smaller Euros. 

As you all know, I'm not a fan of the Euros in general, but I have to admit the play of Grabovsky cannot be overlooked, nor that of Hagman.  I do like Stralman, but he needs some seasoning and Van Ryn is better.

Onto the tilt with the Hawks.  Do they still have Makita?  Hull?  Who's playing on this team these days? 

It dosn't matter.  As we've witnessed, the Leafs can play with and beat the so-called best (if you listen to and care about the opinions of pre-game commentators) in the league this year.  It's these teams in the middle, like the Hawks, they seem to have some trouble with.

But it's about missed chances, bad breaks, the occasional injury and referees.  I, for one, am sure glad we don't see Kerry Fraser anymore—though I did hear his name mentioned in a broadcast a few weeks ago.  His name gets worries more than a game against any team.  With him reffing, we are guaranteed a loss.  Ask Doug Gilmour.

Blake needs to focus on passing and stirring up the pot, and must lead by example.  Speaking of pot, I guess the Leafs didn't take my advice and ended up at Wreck Beach before the game out there.  Maybe they got their days off mixed up. 

Okay, back the Saturday night I've been looking forward to for a while—simply to again see Wendel back in action, if only the highlights, which are good enough for me.

He was a great player, and a true inspiration—not just to his teammates, but to fans who appreciated his passion for the game. 

With that as an introduction, this is where we hit a fork in the road with respect to our Euros.  It likely they won't know or care to know who Wendel is, or what he means to the fans.  Simply put, he represents giving every ounce for the love of the game—the Canadian game, which meant in his day decking the occasional Russian.

Sittler used to play the way I'm seeing a lot of lately, and I wonder if the coaches are playing tapes for the guys.  It involves skating down the wing with the puck full-tilt, slamming on the binders after crossing the blue line, and taking a wicked shot.  With other players crashing the net—literally—this play usually ends up with a scoring chance, if not a goal, for guys like Turnbull.

Good to see the history rubbing off, and so an original-six match-up can only evoke a passionate fight for the win.  In this regard, I need to see some passion from Steen in particular.  I know he's playing good, but he needs electro-shock these days.