How bad are the Toronto Maple Leafs?
They are so bad, even the goalie got sympathy tonight.
Leafs' rookie Justin Pogge, in only his second NHL start, was offered up as 'sacrificial lamb' to a Minnesota Wild team who just got a fire lit under them by the coaching staff earlier in the day. The result was a 6-1 Wild victory over the hapless Buds at Xcel Energy Center, in front of many residents of 'Leaf Nation' who braved sub-freezing temps, arduous bus rides and an international frontier to see their boys get shelled by the likes of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, he of two goals and one assist; Andrew Brunette (in his 500th consecutive NHL game), and the 'Irish God of War', Owen Nolan, who ended the night's festivities with his 12th goal of the season.
Not even ex-Anaheim Duck Brad May could right the ship for the hapless Leafs; his repeated attempts to goad Derek Boogaard into a fight were unsuccessful, as Boogaard never fell for the trash May was talking. Supposedly, the incidents started after a supposed 'late hit' by Boogaard on the Leafs' Tomas Kaberle; at one point in the third period, May was restrained by the Leafs' Nik Antropov, as he was verbally jousting to no avail.
The Wild, after the four-goal second period blew the game away, let their collective foot off the gas in the third, not converting on numerous chances as Pogge and the Leaf defense looked like they were blowin' in the wind. Wild go to 11-2-1 vs. the Eastern Conference, and now face Western Conference opponents in their next seven straight games (four of those being divisional contests, where the Wild so far are a lousy 3-5-1).
Chicken Little: I'd like to see Skoula have a better game. Yep. Skoula.
Pollyanna: When can we play the East again?
Bottom Line: Habs fans and Sens' fans are right. Leafs suck. This was a gift from the NHL, scheduling this game right off the All-Star break. Don't blow this, Wild. Your next three games aren't going to be as easy.
Stud: PMB. See what happens when you shoot the puck? You score, you make plays, you get more ice time.
Dud: Not really a dud, but Martin Skoula is picking up some of his old habits again, like carrying the puck to just in front of his own crease before turning with it. That scares not only his goalie, but we fans as well.
Next: at Edmonton, Friday, Jan. 30, 8 PM Central (7 PM Mountain), Rexall Place, Edmonton. (TV: FSNorth, Oilers' PPV, XM Ch. 205)