Game #4–Friday, Philly
The Leafs got ahead of Philly 2-0 in the first 5 minutes of the game. Counter-intuitively, these games are hard to watch: you sit there with nothing to gain, hoping to avoid an ugly crumbling. Of course watching my Leafs isn’t just fun, it’s thrilling. Skydivers can’t imagine the adrenaline rush I get watching Kessel skate with the puck. But whether we’re winning or losing, it’s gut wrenching.
So it’s funny that when Leafs do in fact blow the lead, the reverse feeling swooshes in and immediately I feel a win is at hand. I like to attribute this curious cerebral complex to the irrationality of our species, human kind, not to Leaf fans in particular.
Yet what appears on the surface to be fundamentally nonsensical may be called instinct, as I was ultimately vindicated: the Leafs scored late in the third to take the lead, blew that lead, then won on a beautiful overtime goal by Lupul, compliments of Phaneuf. It’s possible that through our long relationship and by the sheer force of my devotion, my gut is in tune with the Leafs. I doubt the aching in my stomach for them to win causes them to win, but it probably predicts it accurately.
Funny that the Ducks are supposedly among the best teams in the NHL, because we beat the shit out of them, 3-1. We scored twice in the first period–first a Bozak goal from Phaneuf (same move as the winner from the previous overtime), second a Kessel breakaway (killer speed, good shot, stopped but somehow went in). Second period saw a beauty cross-crease pass from Kessel to Paul Ranger who buried.
Ranger gets a special salutary paragraph here. Old joke: if you want to see what it would look like if you were inserted into an NHL game, watch Paul Ranger. But not last night! Ranger looked WAY better than me, really. Even if he didn’t score he was effective in the D zone, hitting guys and (actually) clearing the puck. I was stunned to find myself admiring his play, but I am glad to see it and hope it continues.
Bozak had three points and was a beast. Poor guy doesn’t get credit because he’s taking Sundin’s role. Nobody can replace the Big Swede. But Bozak was all over the ice, tipping pucks out of the zone, getting breakaways, setting up goals.
Still, I became terrified after the Leafs took a 3-0 lead in the second. The Ducks are no joke. They (Perry, Getzlaf) got shots, mostly from far away but some in tight, but really we did a good job defending the league, even if Perry scored. But there’s nothing to stop me from freaking out, so I did. That’s not totally true. The only thing that can make me finally relax is winning the Cup, and I cannot wait for this Spring, when under the influence of unimaginable ecstasy I’ll probably set a dozen cars ablaze along Yonge. Look for me, I’ll be the guy without pants.