Thanks to Jenna for that lovely quote.
September 29, 2011 is a day that will live on in infamy. That date marks a day that is a first in the history of this particular sport. Some would call it a choke while others will probably revel in the fact that these guys are once again going home without being in the playoffs. Let's be honest, we all remember what happened in 2003. We remember the fan base in Game 7. The hope, the optimism, the pride of just being there. Those days though are long gone. September 29, 2011.
The day the Toronto Maple Leafs were mathematically eliminated from the 2011-2012 NHL playoffs.
Unlike some of the other season previews, I'm not going to be mean to the Maple Leafs. Picking on this team is like trying to beat a toothless man in a corn on the cobb eating contest. What's the point of pointing out their inadequacies? We know they're terrible, the league knows they're terrible, the fans know they're terrible and, shit, even that waste of Internet space Grantland knows it's terrible and their editor is the biggest hockey bandwagoner this side of Rajon Rondo.
I guess it's not ALL bad in Toronto when it comes to hockey. They could be the Raptors of the NHL.
Oh those Leafs...
The Maple Leafs finished 10th in the East, which really fucked the Bruins over because we were all hoping for a Top 5 pick instead of Top 10 #goodorganizationalproblems.
Anywho, the Leafs finished 10th overall in the East with 85 points, a mere 8 points out of the last spot for the playoffs. I'll be honest, that was surprising given the young "talent" on this squad. Guys like Kessel performed up to snuff and James Riemer looks like he's the goaltender that Toronto has been looking for since the days of CuJo (that's Curtis Joseph for you fucking pink hats).
Top Five Scoring Forwards:
1. Phil Kessel: 32G, 32A, 64P
2. Clarke MacArthur: 21G, 41P, 62A
3. Mikhail Grabovski: 29G, 29A, 58P
4. Nikoli Kulemin: 30G, 27A, 57P
5. Tyler Bozak: 15G, 17A, 32P
As usual, Kessel was the best scorer on their team. MacArthur was a surprise, but that's because he didn't play with the Leafs in 2009-2010 and no one (unless you paid attention to the Marlies) really saw that type of production coming.
1. James Riemer: 20-10-5, 2.60 GAA, .921 S%, 3 shutouts
2. Jean-Sebastian Gigure: 26-11-11, 2.87 GAA, .900 S%, 0 shutouts
3. Jonas Gustavsson: 6-13-2, 3.29 GAA, .890 S%, 0 shutouts
Riemer really came on as the man in 2010-2011. Two years ago, Toronto virtually blew their wad over Gustavsson, but the kid is still adjusting to the North American style of hockey. To be fair, Gustavsson was also dealing with a heart problem throughout the season which limited his work. It's obvious that Toronto has a lot of faith in Riemer as they just gave him a 3 year, $1.8M per year contract extension. Unless he really sucks or there's an injury, there's no doubt he mans the pipes in Toronto.
The Leafs are a young squad, but they aren't the worst in the division. That title goes to Ottawa. They have a first line with some fire power, but the 25 point drop from their fourth highest scorer to the fifth highest may be a cause for alarm. No matter what anyone says, Kessel is good offensively. He'll put up 30+ goals year in and year out, so Toronto will need to build around him.
Defensively they have Phanuef and his brotastic douchey faux hawk.
Despite his craptastic piece of head lettuce, Phanuef is one of two defensemen that actually know their position. Luke Schenn is the other, but you have to wonder how he'll play after Brian Burke threw a sack of money at him. Schenn signed a 5 years, $18M contract ($3.6M a year) in the offseason.
You want to know why the Leafs defense is going to get under more balls then a midget hooker?
Mike Fucking Komisarek. This douchebag, who has effectively blocked Jon, Justin and I on Twitter because we kept posting pics of Lucic kicking the shit out of him, is one of the most overrated defensemen in the NHL. He makes Steve Montador look like Ray Bourque for fucks sake. The worst thing about him...the absolutely worst thing...is that he's making $4.5M for ANOTHER THREE YEARS. I'm not even a Maple Leafs fan and I'm getting mad over that fact. Komisarek should be bagging grocies somewhere or pouring your Timmy's Double Double (see, I know the lingo Canada) instead of playing hockey. Orange pylon cones look at that guy and say "Wow, he sucks".
As a Bruins fan, I should send Brian Burke that $1,000 bottle of alcohol the Bruins drank while tearing through Foxwoods in their Stanley Cup Shit Storm Celebration. That contract, yikes. He's their second pairing defensemen. Makes guys like Ference and/or Boychuk look like all-stars. Komisarek, Lebda and Liles, the three stooges of defense.
Where they finish:
Fourth in the Northeast division because the Senators couldn't play a decent game of hockey if their lives depended on it. If these young guys click, they may shoot up in to third, but I don't think they have the defense to hang with teams like Boston, Buffalo and Montreal. There's always one thing going for the Maple Leafs, they no longer have the Doughberle playing for them anymore.