The last two months of the Leafs' season has been almost surreal for me. At the beginning of February, it looked like this team was finally going to make the playoffs, for the first time since 2004, when I was just ten years old.
But then...well, something happened. To me it mostly feels like someone came along and punched Leafs fans in their collective stomachs. Gave us a puppy for Christmas and then took it away before we could even name it. Or some other metaphor that's better than what I can come up with.
The main problems are fairly obvious: the Leafs do not have a starting NHL goaltender (though I still believe Reimer could be a good one as soon as next year) their defense might as well be non existent for all the good it does. I think the memory I'm going to hold on to that sums up this 'slump' is something my mom said to me after the fifth Bruins game: "I don't like that Car-on guy. All he does is stand in front of the net. Schenn should be there to push him away." If my mom can see a problem with this team then it's pretty safe to assume it's a big one. I propose they hire her to fix the defensive issues.
I would devote a paragraph to how it's not Phil Kessel's fault, but the media's bullshit about him is so ridiculous to me I don't even have the patience to deconstruct their argument. If you blame Kessel for this in any way at all, then I would like to direct you to read this and take a look at this and this. Kessel's the only guy on this team who HASN'T sucked over the past two months, so yes it makes perfect sense for people to run him out of town. (And I think I just devoted a paragraph to how it's not Phil Kessel's fault).
As of right now, the Leafs are in the bottom five in the league, and in line to be in the draft lottery. This could any one of Ryan Murphy, Filip Forsberg, Matthew Dumba, Jacob Trouba, or (the one I'm hoping for) Alex Galchenyuk. With some lottery luck (lol though when do the Leafs ever get lucky) moving up for Grigorenko or Yakupov would also be possible. This all hinges on the Leafs not going on a five game winning streak to end the season, of course. The level of play they're maintaining currently limits my fear of this happening, but this IS the Leafs we're talking about, and they always come up with new and exciting ways to screw everything up.
Speaking of 'screwing everything up' how about the lol's we'd all get to have if this hopefully top five draft pick gets traded for Rick Nash? Or perhaps you would rather have another unproven back up goaltender for your hard-earned draft pick.
Sometimes it's hard for me to keep hoping. I stop watching games cause all they do is ruin my mood, and I tell myself that I don't care about what they do and I need to stop hoping. But then Nazem Kadri is called up. And we fall into the lottery. Somehow, I find myself wandering over to TSN's draft site, and getting excited to watch what will probably be a crappy hockey game between the Leafs and Devils, because Naz (and Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton, who I'm really happy for) will be playing.
I'm not sure what the point of this post is, other than to get all those Leafs thoughts out there. And to reinforce the fact that as hard as I might try, I'll never stop caring and cheering for the Leafs.