A Rollercoaster Ride For Leafs Nation
Friday, 11.19.2010 / 1:17 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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To really understand a Maple Leafs season you need to be the parent of a teenage girl.
Oh, parenting teenage boys can have its moments, especially when Wally wants to borrow the family car to hit the malt shop with the Beav.
You just know they are going to roll down the road, the windows of the Buick wide open …
“Black and yellow. Black and yellow. Black and Yellow.”
Parenting boys is like directing a sailboat. It’s a lot of work, but nothing happens too fast. Directing girls is like racing a cigarette boat…blindfolded.
So far this season, the impartial observers who comprise Leafs Nation took in the rapture of a four-game winning streak that crumbled into a period that brought eight straight losses. That too would be usurped by the two-game winning streak Leaf fans revel in as we speak.
Apart from the regular ups and downs, we have seen captain Dion Phaneuf incapacitated by a flying skate blade that opened up his leg to the bone. Nazem Kadri’s Marlies’ apprenticeship was cut short when he was summoned to the Leafs. It feels like 2000 years since the last time someone was called home with this much fanfare.
There have been the odd twists. Colby Armstrong’s tendon seemed to have jumped out on his hand. While he was knocked out of the lineup, doctors slapped a cast on his injured foot. This made Armstrong one of a few NHL players to get a cast on his foot because of a broken hand.
The Leafs scored 16 goals in their first four games. They could only garner seven in their next five games.
The power play and penalty kill hit the ceiling early. Now the Leafs power play sits 14th and the penalty kill 26th.
In case you think all is lost, remember the Leafs have seven wins. At this date last year they had three.
A few days ago the projections regarding Leafs coach Ron Wilson weren’t altogether rosy. GM Brian Burke was likewise pilloried. Now, it feels like 10 years ago. Kristopher Versteeg, the owner of three goals in his last two games, has prompted people to stop checking Viktor Stalberg’s scoring totals in Chicago.
Another good outing from Jonas Gustavsson and the inevitable goaltending controversy will move from the back to the front burner. If the Leafs play well without Phaneuf, he too will be suspect, or more so.
A win in Montreal on Saturday would push the Leafs to 8-8-3 but don’t be fooled. Level ground isn’t what you signed up for.