WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
Kings vs. Leafs and STAR WARS! All in the same night in downtown Toronto...couldn't get any better than that!
However, the night did come with several surprises although I am still not sure which one captured the essence of Saturday night in Toronto. Perhaps is was the Maple Leafs playing a near flawless game against a Stanley Cup champion squad like the LA Kings, or Jonathan Bernier looking sharp from beginning to end and earning a shutout, or heck, maybe it was witnessing the death of Han Solo? (or moreover, the shock of seeing a hero played by Harrison Ford killed in action?! Seriously, that happened?
Yes, it ALL happened!
I have complained and complained about Darryl Sutter giving Jonathan Quick more nights off, but why does it have to be the one game I fly out from Chicago-Midway to either Los Angeles last January and this past weekend to Toronto when he does get that "night off" in a game that is not a back-to-back situation? Seriously coach Sutter? You must have been reading my stuff and did this to spite me, haven't you?
It probably didn't matter. The goals that Jonas Enroth allowed to the Leafs on Saturday, I don't think Quick would have stopped any of them either. But then again, the Kings completely gave up in the third period, and if it were against any of the other 28 teams in the NHL, I would have been livid.
But now I will speak being the devils advocate, not trying to use my 50-50 enthusiasm and heart and soul interest for both teams get involved...The Kings gave up in the third period against a Maple Leaf team who had blown two straight games on home ice to similar strong clubs with lots of recent success (San Jose, although not being playoff success) or Stanley Cup Final experience (Tampa Bay), so why couldn't a club like LA be able to overcome a slim 1-0 or 2-0 lead? The Kings also gave up against a goaltender (whom they know very well) who had not won a single game this season and who had been engaged in an epic struggle dating back to the last couple of months of the previous season. So, the Kings fan in me was definitely not happy with the end result. The Kings rarely get beat like that but every fan in the Air Canada Centre on Saturday was mimicking my same words, Toronto 5 LA 0 final...how in the "bleep" did that happen?
All I will say about the Kings, they better not let that happen again the rest of the season. I still feel for the little boy walking out of the ACC with a Quick jersey on crying. I told him, just wait until June...You won't even remember this night!
I think I will be happy and accurate to say that Saturday's game will most likely be the highest point of the season for the Maple Leafs. But tonight, they walk into Colorado, another team who had been red hot, and score seven on them, four of which coming at even strength after a 3-3 tie to start the third period. Pretty solid effort. And even Bernier looked sharp for much of the game.
But tonight, I want to give a shout out to the little special needs girl wearing a Maple Leaf jersey sitting behind Mike Babcock and the Toronto bench tonight. She was dancing, singing and cheering her Leafs on all night. Forget the actual game itself, she was thrilled to see the Leafs win tonight. Being a special needs teacher and coach myself outside Chicago makes me feel really good about the game tonight and the past 96 or so hours. this win was for that special little girl tonight!
Keep it rolling tomorrow in the desert. Perhaps we will see the first NHL start for Antoine Bibeau?
I will say this again: Leo Komarov is the best player on the Maple Leafs this season. Trade him is tempting, but I would rather keep him aboard when the kids arrive. Komarov is to the Leafs as is Anze Kopitar is to the Kings. You don't let those guys walk or trade them. Doing so would be suicidal.