When the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club & Sadness Factory plays another team, sometimes there will be a goal that is subject to the plague of video review. Video review, if you are new to the league, is a process by which a goal is looked at from nine angles, none of which are clear, and is either overturned because a player was offside three games earlier or sustained because the goalie interference rule is just a copy of that Salvador Dali painting with the melting clocks. And if said call happens to go in favour of the Leafs, some fan of the team injured by this decision will inevitably remark bitterly: “We’re never going to get a fair call out of Toronto. They have the league offices there.”
It is no use to point out that the Leafs were the only team to lose every single coach’s challenge last year, or that currently the Leafs are 28th in the NHL in power play opportunities despite being one of the league’s fastest teams. It does not do any good to observe that in the last three seasons only one player has been suspended one game for an offence against a Leaf player while the Leafs have taken four suspensions for doing things to other people. It doesn’t even help to suggest that if the league were shaving the dice in favour of Toronto that maybe the Leafs wouldn’t have spent the last fifty years suffering every imaginable misfortune except relocation, and even then at least relocation would have saved us from the fucking Bruins. The league offices are in Toronto, you see.
Now, there actually is a bias in the media in favour of the Leafs, which is that a lot of people are (foolishly, if you ask me) fans of this woebegone franchise and so they get talked about more than teams that do not have as many fans. I don’t know why it’s a huge shock that private media companies like Sportsnet (which shares ownership with the Leafs, for Christ’s sake) or TSN would report more on things that more people would like to hear about, but apparently it is, to judge by the angry “too many Leaf stories!” comments that one balding guy with Oakley shades puts in under every article. I also don’t know that it’s all that enviable to be talked about more when you realize the substance of this unending Leaf content mill is
- Is it time to trade Nylander?
- Is it time get an awful third-pair defenceman your uncle likes by trading Nylander?
- Is Auston Matthews’ mustache a mistake that’s hurting the team?*
- You know who the Leafs should trade? Nylander
*The answer is actually yes to this one.
But that aside, the league has shown a distinct unwillingness to benefit its largest franchise. Hell, even things like the salary cap, revenue sharing and so on clearly benefit other teams to the detriment of Toronto.
So I would like to say: it’s time for the league to start tipping the scales a little.
Let’s be honest, everyone will be mad at the Leafs anyway. Nobody likes rich kids and those fans, ugh, amirite? So let’s lean in a bit. Start tilting the calls here and there. Give the Leafs an extra powerplay once in a while. Actually give a suspension when Kyle Okposo tries to shatter Travis Dermott’s spinal column with a hit from behind. Call goalie interference anytime an opposing player breathes on Frederik Andersen (you don’t have to do this for Michael Hutchinson, we recognize there are limits and it’s not like that’s gonna save him.) You’ll help an enormous market get some key playoff games—but there’s an important benefit for the rest of the league.
Now that every movie in existence is a superhero movie, it’s worth noting what differentiates the good ones from the bad ones, besides the fact that all the ones with Superman in them suck. You know what made Black Panther cool? It had a really good villain. You know why Tom Hiddleston is in eighteen Marvel movies despite dying at the end of like nine of them? Because he’s a really good villain. It’s no fun if the heroes just triumph over some nameless goon.
Beating the Toronto Maple Leafs hasn’t even been that hard lately. Boston makes a big show of it and then inevitably crucifies them in Game 7. The rest of the time the Leafs tend to miss the playoffs. If the Big Bad Franchise is just a stooge tripping over his skate laces, where’s the fun in that? The story is David and Goliath, not David and Mr. Bean.
So the league should give the Leafs a leg up. Make them a real villain, with all sorts of unfair advantages. It would give fans a better reason to hate them than the fact they’re from a big city and boo, big cities bad. When a team upsets the Leafs despite having played three-quarters of a series short handed, isn’t that a way better achievement than winning just because the Leafs are playing Cody fucking Ceci twenty minutes a night? Of course, this process might also end in Toronto winning a few Cups here and there, which frankly I think is fine too. They don’t engrave asterisks on the trophy.
The alternative, of course, would be to note that NHL officiating isn’t intentionally biased any one way but that it favours even-out makeup calls regardless of what happens on the ice; that the league’s Department of Player Safety is run by a former brawler who literally has a clothing brand with “violent” in the name; that the NHL has added more and more review without making anyone happier about the actual goal calls; that dangerous hits are thrown constantly and that the league responds unevenly because it won’t accept that major changes to the game would be what was required to actually get rid of them.
And honestly dealing with all that stuff sounds super hard. So if we’re going to have a messy, trainwreck system, I vote we at least skew it in a fun way.
Start some pro-Leafs bias.
Canucks look like a team in serious trouble after loss to Canadiens – Sportsnet.ca
VANCOUVER — For the first time since Travis Green was hired as coach, the Vancouver Canucks look dead in the water, truly stalled and in danger of foundering.
Hope that Wednesday’s wonderfully chaotic win against the Montreal Canadiens was a sign the Canucks were starting to move forward again was obliterated Thursday when Vancouver gave away a pile of goals, including two in nine seconds, and was embarrassed 7-3 by the Habs at Rogers Arena.
The seas are getting rougher and the Canucks already look capable of sinking. They no longer seem like a team trapped by circumstance in a slow start, but a team in serious trouble.
“We weren’t just giving up scoring chances, we were giving up goals,” Green, who is in the fourth and final year of his Canucks contract, said after the game. “We gift-wrapped probably four or five goals. It wasn’t a game where we were hemmed in our zone… it was just giving up breakaways. In this league, if you give up chances that are gifts, you’re going to lose bad. We did that tonight.”
After incremental improvements since Green’s arrival and a breakthrough season last year that included three rounds of NHL playoffs, the Canucks look lost.
Six games into 2021’s 56-game sprint, the Canucks have allowed 28 goals, easily the most in the NHL. And Vancouver’s minus-10 goal differential is better than only the Chicago Blackhawks’.
They’ve lost three defencemen to injury already and a fourth hasn’t played since testing positive for COVID. Another, veteran Tyler Myers, may face a disciplinary review for a late hit Thursday to the head of Montreal’s Joel Armia.
On Thursday, the Canucks’ power play was outscored 2-1 by the Canadiens penalty-killing and top forward Elias Pettersson, whose five-game scoring famine is the longest of his short career, was dropped from the first line after his second-period turnover led to one of Montreal’s shorthanded goals.
It is a mess.
“We look a little bit immature at times,” Green explained. “It could be when you have a little bit of success, and you win some playoff series, you come back and you forget how hard it is to win. We’re not a team that has ever won easy; we have to grind out wins. We’ve got to realize that and remember it’s hard to win in the league.
“We had that mentality last year. We’ve got to get back to that.”
When Canucks captain Bo Horvat was asked about Green’s observation, teammate Nate Schmidt, who was sharing the Zoom call with reporters, interjected.
A month before his October trade from the Vegas Golden Knights, Schmidt played against the Canucks in the playoffs.
“This group had a lot of jam… and didn’t give up on it,” Schmidt said. “They made it as hard as it could possibly be for Vegas to move on. It’s a series like that, you look at a team like this. . . (that’s why) there’s frustration in our group because you see how hard we can make it on teams to win.
“When I first got traded here, that’s something I thought was such a positive with the group. (It) was never going to let things like this go. It’s a reality check where we are. But the way I look at it, we know it’s there. I think that’s the reason why it’s frustrating.”
The Canucks defence had more kids in the cast than Sesame Street. With veterans Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic both injured on Wednesday and unable to play Thursday, Vancouver’s blue line included rookies Olli Juolevi (four NHL games), Brogan Rafferty (two) and Jalen Chatfield (one). Sophomore Quinn Hughes was the Canucks’ third-most experienced defenceman.
Of course there were going to be mistakes. And of course, another injury, as Chatfield, who was playing the best of the freshmen, failed to survive the first period.
But for all the concern about the defence’s inexperience, Vancouver’s biggest problems were some astonishingly poor plays from a few of its best players, including Schmidt.
With time and space and the puck in his own zone, Schmidt managed to whiff on a pass, then went to the wrong man after his turnover, leaving Armia with a shorthanded breakaway that he buried in the first period.
On a second-period Canucks power play, Pettersson’s nightmare start to the season got worse when his lateral pass at the Montreal blue line was picked off, leading to another breakaway and another goal for Tyler Toffoli.
When J.T. Miller’s shot bounced back off Canadiens goalie Jake Allen, as both Hughes and Myers were moving forward inside the offensive zone, Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko had the pleasure of another wide-open breakaway.
Demko managed to stop this one on Nick Suzuki, but the puck arced across the crease where Josh Anderson bunted it in after breezing uncontested past an exhausted Miller.
And Myers, the most experienced defenceman in the lineup, took three interference penalties in the first half of the game, then late in the second period turned over the puck along the boards in the Canucks’ zone and was slow to pick up his man as Armia scored again during the Canadiens’ three-goal outburst.
Nobody can win games when their “best” players are making plays this bad.
Horvat had two of the Canucks goals, Brandon Sutter the other. Armia finished with four points before leaving the game after getting crunched by Myers’ shoulder with 2:28 remaining. Myers was assessed a match penalty.
Armia’s linemate, Toffoli, scored twice and has five goals in two games against his ex-team.
Four points adrift of the Canadiens when they could have pulled even on Thursday, the 2-4 Canucks are in danger of losing touch with .500 heading into the series finale against Montreal on Saturday.
“We’re six games into it and we still have things to learn and things to clean up,” Horvat said. “Obviously, tonight wasn’t good enough. We know that as a group. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and we’re going to be ready to go here in the next couple of days.”
Canucks’ Myers ejected after hit to head on Canadiens’ Armia – Sportsnet.ca
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Canadiens @ Canucks Top Six Minutes: Tyler Toffoli, Canuck killer – Habs Eyes on the Prize
For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.
The finer points of hockey, when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens, boils down to staying out of the box. They’re not very good at doing that. You do that, you go to the box… Two minutes by yourself, and you feel shame. And then you get free.
Let’s see if they can stay free more often than not tonight.
**SPOILER ALERT** NOBODY STAYS FREE TONIGHT.
- Jake Allen back between the pipes. I’ve seen some people suggesting that if he has a few more solid games there could be a goaltending controversy in Montreal.
- Maybe, maybe not, maybe shut up.
- There should be zero controversy about the following statement: Tyler Toffoli, so hot right now. 1-0 good guys
- Scratch the goalie controversy I guess… Tyler Myers. 1-1.
- If you thought that the teams would tighten up and play some defense after last night’s barn burner, THINK AGAIN YOU FOOL. BARN BURNERS. ALWAYS.
- Aaaaaaand we have an absolute joke of a penalty against Jonathan Drouin. I guess this is just a carbon copy of last night, brutal officiating and all.
- Step 1: take penalty. Step 2: Step 3: Joel Armia scores. 2-1
- Oh hey, another complete bullshit penalty against Montreal. Come on guys, it isn’t funny anymore.
- This time Vancouver does the scoring, which I assume is what the refs wanted all along. 2-2.
- Wait, a penalty being called against Vancouver, IN Vancouver? What is this sorcery?
- Montreal does not score and I will also blame that on the refs because I can.
- Another penalty against Vancouver, in Vancouver? I thought these refs were just last night’s refs in disguise but maybe I’m just an idiot.
- Montreal didn’t score on that one either so maybe it is the same jerk Zebras.
- Joel Edmundson is off to the box to begin the second. I’m not so sure these refs are Habs hunting anymore, I think they just like hearing their own voices over the PA.
- TYLER TOFFOLI. SHORT HANDED. 3-2 GOOD GUYS
- I don’t know what has gotten into Toffoli, but I like it. So. Hot. Right. Now.
- A penalty to Vancouver…
- A penalty to Nick Suzuki…
- At this rate we’ll be lucky to see more than 10 minutes of 5 on 5 hockey from here on out.
- The refs know that nobody paid to see them right?
- Wow, that was like almost four minutes before the ref just had to call a ticky tack trip on the Habs. This time it’s Phillip Danault.
- That is not a penalty. In no universe where hockey exists and is played by people with brains is that something you go to the box for. Except for this stupid game.
- Myers to the box again for Vancouver… I’d honestly like to decline it on behalf of all fans that would like these refs to chill out a little.
- This might be the longest 5 on 5 stretch of the entire game after the Myers penalty ended. It’s nice.
- JOSH ANDERSON!! 4-2
- JAKE EVANS!!!!!!!!! 5-2
- Now you will understand why I wanted to see the 5 on 5 so badly. Montreal is better at that than they are at penalty festivals.
- Joel Armia just deked around like 7 players at once including two of his teammates. 6-2 BUT WAIT, WE HAVE A CHALLENGE.
- The goal stands. Now we get to add yet another penalty to the score sheet, and this one I can’t blame on the refs.
- Given a 6-2 lead, I expect the Canadiens to be penalized anywhere from five to 73 times in the final frame.
- Well Brandon Sutter scored. I’ll be honest, I forgot he was even in the NHL still. Why does it feel like he always scores on the Habs?
- There have been no penalties and we’re over five minutes into the period. I assume the refs are from the East and like myself, they’re ready for bed.
- It’s either that or they’ve blown their whistles out and are too embarrassed to leave and get new ones.
- Paul Byron just got absolutely drilled on the foot by a shot. Please Lord, don’t take Lord Byron from us.
- He’s back on the bench. Fast Healing powers brought to you by the stores of Max Pacioretty’s blood that the Canadiens still keep on hand at all times.
- The first penalty of the period comes with 5 minutes to play, and is against the team losing 6-3. Can’t say that’s anything near what I expected from this officiating crew.
- Well, Tyler Myers just threw a completely gutless, pointless hit on Joel Armia. In a 6-3 loss with nothing to gain on either side, in the final minutes.
- I hope Tyler Myers is forced at gunpoint to walk barefoot through a hallway lined wall to wall with legos. Sharp ones. Then, and only then, do I hope the NHL suspends him. What a coward.
- Hope he enjoyed losing 6-3, that giant coward.
- Make that 7-3, just for you, you gangly Pterodactyl looking piece of shit.
- Habs win, Tyler Myers ruined my night, and I hope the Habs feed this team on Saturday night.
EOTP 3 Stars of the night
3) Practice makes perfect.
2) The hockey gods thou
ght it was so funny they decided to run it back.
1) I have assessed both Lats and Hab at Heart a penalty for merely discussing this.
And bonus stars for the good doggos:
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Canucks look like a team in serious trouble after loss to Canadiens – Sportsnet.ca
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