Puck Daddy Countdown: All we are saying is give Leafs a chance

The Leafs’ monumental collapse against the Bruins in the 2013 playoffs was five long years ago. Different team, different story in 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
The Leafs’ monumental collapse against the Bruins in the 2013 playoffs was five long years ago. Different team, different story in 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

6. A positive mental attitude

Pretty crazy coincidence that some of the worst teams in the league — the Canadiens, Rangers, Hurricanes, etc. — have all taken to saying, “Ah, you know what the big problem is here? These guys don’t care enough and they’re not tough enough.”

Not, “Ah, we put together a crap roster that couldn’t be competitive in the league for the full 82,” of course, because that’s a job-protection thing and I get it. But it was particularly rich hearing Marc Bergevin, who offloaded a ton of capital-T Talent in recent years in exchange for Capital-T Toughness, and then said, “I don’t think this is a 40-loss team if they cared more.”

(Which, by the way, it was a 40-loss-in-regulation team, and 53 overall, but who’s counting?)

It’s just one of those very cool and fun things about the sport that guys on talented teams almost always seem to be the ones who “care” the most, and the guys whose teams are bereft of talent really run into a lack of will as their biggest impediment.

You can set your watch to this stuff, but it’s always pretty funny regardless.

5. The Bruins

I mentioned it in the power rankings but it’s very weird that these guys dropped four of their last five while playing for the division and a very favorable playoff matchup against the Devils, against whom they went 3-1-0 with a shootout win this season.

I’m not really ready to ascribe a lot of meaning to their slide. Everyone hits slides and streaks at various times and if anything it just gives Bruce Cassidy a little more bulletin board material, but you really don’t want to be backing into something this time of year!

4. The Bolts maybe?

How much do you think we’re gonna have to hear about New Jersey sweeping them in the regular season? An insane amount? Feels like that’s the right amount: “Insane.”

I gotta tell ya, it truly doesn’t matter how things went in the regular season because this isn’t a “matchups” problem for the Bolts, this is a “New Jersey scored 10 goals on 103 shots” problem. Mathematically, the odds that they keep shooting 9.7 percent seem fairly low.

Here’s a better way to contextualize things for people: Y’know how Tampa is better than New Jersey? Like, objectively better? What would you say is the probability that Tampa wins any given game against these Devils? Like 53, 54 percent? So what the Devils did in winning these three previous meetings was have their shorter odds come up three times in a row. Now they have to do it four more times in a maximum of seven games.

I’m not saying it’s impossible that New Jersey wins seven of a possible 10 games against the Lightning, I’m just saying that even on narrow winning margins, it’s really hard to do that.

3. Roberto Luongo

Very, very nice to see Roberto Luongo come back for another season at age 39. Did you know my man went .929 in 35 games this year? It’ll never happen but he should really be in the conversation for “top-10 goalies of all time.”

His career save percentage in 254 games since the start of 2013-14 is .921. He was 34 that year! How is it possible? The guy has a .919 career save percentage since 1999, and he’s played more than 1,000 career games.

Feels like people didn’t really appreciate him until he was funny on Twitter, but this man is a saint and I love him!

(On the other hand, it would have been funny to see the cap recapture penalty Vancouver and Florida faced. But that number only goes up as time goes on, to the point where in 2021, it would be like $8.5 million to Vancouver and $0 to Florida. Hilarious.)

2. Job security

Imagine being as bad at something as Ken Holland has been for years, and very publically running your ship into the ground in stunning fashion, and at the end of the day your bosses are like, “Y’know what, how about two more years with a seven-figure salary?”

I saw some people expressing consternation that the team is bringing back Jeff Blashill as the coach, and I get it on some level because, y’know, the team was awful. But Ken Holland got TWO more years out of management for reasons totally unknowable and unjustifiable.

1. Two thousand thirteen!!!!!!!!!!!

Can we let the damn Leafs live?

A thing I will truly never understand is how we’re trying to pin the failures of the 2013 Toronto Maple Leafs, and specifically how they blew Game 7 of that opening-round series, on this current Maple Leafs team.

Every guy on the team had some gormless weirdo stick a mic in their face this week like, “Ah, how will you overcome this one?”

It’s narrative-building, and if (when?) the Leafs lose this series, it’ll be used as some sort of fodder against the team because people are just that dumb. Because what’s Mitch Marner going to say besides, “Yeah dude I didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so I don’t really care about this.”

Since then, the Leafs have turned over all but five players on the roster (Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, and James van Riemsdyk), their coach, and pretty much all of their front office. To say the words, “Two thousand thirteen” out loud doesn’t sound like it was that long ago, but Auston Matthews was negative-three years away from being an NHLer.

The Leafs aren’t and shouldn’t be the favorite in this series, and if they lose to the Bruins, even if they get swept, that has basically nothing to do with the events of 2013. I don’t know why this is a hard concept to grasp.

(Not ranked this week: Steve Simmons.

You hear a lot when Steve Simmons or some other guy like him does a real Creep Take, as Simmons did with Marc Savard on Sunday, is “He’s nice in real life though!”

(I’m sure, by the way, this is a thing people say about me, too, but I’m actually such a nice sweetie and the only people I call out are the ones whose takes are bad.)

Well look I gotta say, leaving aside all the Phil Kessel stuff and whatever else Simmons has done to piss people off in the past, for him to use his space to call out a guy who publicly struggled with concussions and mental illness — and has been pretty damn open about that in a number of publications that are readily available to you with a simple search query — is ghoulish.

Because okay, listen, I have a lot of thoughts on the sport that I don’t publish because to say, “I wish Patrick O’Sullivan would just shut up for like five seconds,” isn’t really fair or productive in a lot of cases. Patrick O’Sullivan should get lost, for sure, but for the most part his dumb input is harmless. Like I said, guys have bad takes and deserve to get called out for them sometimes.

But I gotta ask, what’s the point of saying “This concussion victim sucks and I hope no one gives him a job.” Like, what does that get Simmons? There are plenty of former players I don’t want to hear from, but I’m not out here saying, “This guy you haven’t heard from in a while, I hope I continue not hearing from him!” Especially because we all know what Savard went through if we’ve been paying attention, which to be fair, Steve probably hasn’t.

This is a guy who’s a 1000000 percent media dumbass who loves to call people out but blocks anyone who disagrees with him even slightly on Twitter, and if anyone shouldn’t have a job, it’s him. He’s everything wrong with the media carrion class and someone has to say it.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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