No one does a post-mortem like the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the past six years, it’s been an April tradition. The Leafs spit up all over themselves in the playoffs, and then the next week the rest of the playoffs are drowned out by the wailing from southern Ontario about who needs to be traded, who needs to be fired, who needs to be signed, and why the NHL needs to do more to bend the rules to those in blue more often. It’s what they do best, as it’s their natural state. Leafs Nation doesn’t want to win so much as to tell everyone what they think it takes to win.
But no, after a shaky first period, the Leafs gained control of Game 4, finally got a bounce in a puck that hit the ref’s skate and banked perfectly to William Nylander in the slot, as well as a big goal from Mitch Marner. And then they were able to hold on without asking rookie Joseph Woll to do too much in net.
Which means they very well might be saving this for the Toronto crowd, in most ways more delicious than simply getting swept. They’ll make their fans watch. Or better yet, they’ll win Game 5 and actually give their fans hope. Or what looks like hope, but is really a ruse they try to pull on the rest of the hockey world so they can justify nailing themselves to the cross even more even if we saw through the act long ago. Their various video bloggers will be drinking two gallons of their own piss instead of one soon enough.
The shots of Maple Leaf Square might convince the uninitiated that Leafs’ fans are relieved to get one win, to not have to suffer the embarrassment of being swept by a No. 8 seed, and to have just the tiniest bit of hope restored with a home game coming. They have to win at home after losing twice, right? Anything could happen after that, right?
Don’t be fooled, it’s not how they’re built. Leafs Nation’s favorite time of year is right after the team beefs it. That’s when they’re at their best, declaring their highest-paid players are failures and soft and need to be removed for players who get it, and then acting incredulous when other star players take a pass on playing in Toronto. The week after a Toronto exit is a holiday, full of everyone “knowing” the answer and how the rest of us just don’t understand what it means to be a Leaf. Which is strange for an area that hasn’t actually seen a winner in 56 years. How is everyone so sure what it takes?
Edmonton Oilers dominate, even series vs. Golden Knights
Speaking of more dumb hockey-ness, the Golden Knights got a blue and orange foot shoved up their ass and into their ribcage last night to the tune of a 4-1 score that wasn’t that close. And as the Knights are wont to do, more so than any other team it feels like, they took a playoff loss in the classiest way possible:
This will be yet another chance for George Parros, who heads the Department of Player Safety, to show the world what the maximum fine is for a player, the same amount Alex Pietrangelo will tip whoever washes his car next week. Which is why you don’t hire a former goon to decide what needs to be wiped from the game.
There is nothing hockey about this. It’s a vicious attempt to injure and nothing more. What could warrant a suspension other than a player going out of his way, chasing an unsuspecting player, and trying to knock him out of the rest of the playoffs across the ice from the puck?
But no, Parros will bend to the ancient hockey tradition of “message sending,” the canopy of the truly idiotic that keeps the game in the dark. Which will probably turn Game 5 into mayhem, which might be what the NHL wants anyway.
There was more horseshit in the last two minutes of this one, as there always is when one team gets powdered in a playoff game, especially when that team is the Knights. Which is a keen ploy, doing anything that will have the refs in Game 5 on high alert and calling penalties left and right. A team definitely wants to put the Oilers on the power play as much as they can. Cornwallis is fainting at the genius of the strategy. Not like that unit has become self-aware or anything.
The San Siro crowd delivers
Switching to soccer, I can get snobby about the atmosphere at sporting events in North America and how canned and tame it can feel a lot of the time. And this is why, courtesy of both Milan and Inter Milan fans before yesterday’s Champions League semi-first leg:
Claudio Castagnoli once again shows his strength on AEW Dynamite
And finally, pro wrestling:
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate.