By Louis "King of Roncesvalles" Pisano
It seems during out of conference games that teams don’t have the built-up animosity towards each other that drives them to play a physical game, and last night at the ACC was a prime example of this.
While sitting with Owen Nolan’s cousin, a good friend of mine for years, we couldn’t believe how sluggish both teams were playing. It was like a shinny game in High Park—no, wait, there is more contact there!
The rowdiest bunch in the building were a group of five Minnesota fans that had obviously made the trip, and not even the usually upstart Leafs fans up in the rafters showed any support. Sad.
To see Owen in his last game in Toronto as he will retire after this year, and who was probably the best guy on the ice for either team, was truly a pleasure. It was great to see him curl one in in the last minute of the game. Good luck Owen; I hope the votes come in for the Hall of Fame after you retire!
The Monster was great again, and after making a series of great saves, the fans were still subdued. It made me sick, to be honest. The goals that went in were mostly unstoppable deflections, and what can you say when it’s five on three and the goalie saves the first five shots and then one goes in? That’s not on your goalie; it's not his fault!
Toronto is supposed to be building a Brian Burke type of tough team, yet I don’t think I saw anyone even sneeze in the direction of Derek Boogaard, really. Colton Orr may have asked him if he would like to go out to dinner after the game, but that was it.
If you are going to be a tough team and hold that reputation and want teams to fear playing you, which is the vibe I kind of got in the preseason—at least that’s the message that I thought the Leafs were trying to send—you have to be there in other teams' faces night in and night out no matter who you play. I don’t think I even saw one glove in anyone’s face in front of the net after a whistle.
The game was a dream-type model for Gary Bettman, and I could see him watching the game saying in his weasel-like way, “This is the way it should be guys,” while Don Cherry was yelling at the TV mispronouncing European players' names purposely!
I am sure Ron Wilson will be riding the team hard in practice, and going up against Chicago next on the road and then hosting Calgary at home Saturday, the Leafs are in tough and will see some more tough practices in the near future, as they will most likely lose both games.
This team as we all know is a work in progress, and patience is a virtue, but that is one thing that we in Toronto have never had. We want results and want them now!
Burke wants them now as well, at least some results, because if Toronto finishes in the bottom five and we gave away a top five lottery pick, perhaps the first overall, to our division rival Bruins, Leafs Nation will become a lynch mob banging down Burke's door, and I’ll be there with a torch in hand looking for the other monster, Burkenstein!
All the Best!