What a game

December 29, 2005

Halfway through the first period of the Leafs/Sabres game tonite, it became strikingly clear that the “new” NHL is very capable of attracting a whole new generation of hockey fans.

After a long rebound off the blocker of Belfour, the Leafs were flying, rushing up ice, four skaters crossing the Buffalo blue line in perfect sync.  It was then, seeing a wash of royal blue flying toward Martin Biron, that I was reminded again just how great our game is to watch.

Tie Domi–of all people–deked and left a drop pass for McCabe, who blasted a slap shot by Biron. 

From there on, this game was amazing.  Everything you look for. Shorthanded goals for both teams, rare stoppages (I can’t recall a single whistle for icing or even offsides), great hits.

Midway throught the third with Toronto up 3-2, you could sense Eddie losing it.  We, as Wings fans, know that site very well.  Bobbling rebounds, losing his temper, slashing anyone within a few feet of him.  Inevitably he let in a softie with about 11 minutes left. 

At that point, I switched to the Pistons/Heat game on TNT.  From the chaos of the Air Canada Centre, every fan on his feet, the building shaking–to the Palace, a rivalry game built up by media from both cities; and you could hear the echo of the ball bouncing as Rip Hamilton dribbled around the perimeter.  Polite clapping as Rasheed hit a fall away.

I like the Pistons, but there is just no comparison between these two sports.

Back to Toronto and you knew it was going OT.  Great scoring chances from both sides as regulation drew to a close.  Odd man rushes, tenacious battles and the refs swallowed their whistles in the final minutes. 

As Mats Sundin beared down on Biron in the shootout, my wife said, “oh, cute leggings.”  He must have heard as he rifled one upstairs.   Buffalo couldn’t get past Belfour and the Leafs fans erupted.

Amazing game and testament to the NHL–new and old.

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