Game #2: Leafs @ Senators, 7pm (EST)

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Thoughts on last night’s game are short and simple.

Jack Campbell was terrific, while, in no particular order, William Nylander, Ondrej Kase, Michael Bunting, Nick Ritchie, Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall and David Kampf were solid. However, it’s a lifeless win for me, considering it came a few months too late.

So I’ll add some bigger picture thoughts. While I understand that you need regular season wins to get to the playoffs (believe it or not I actually understand the regular season/playoff system the NHL uses), you need to forgive me for not giving a flying fiddlers fuck about “holding on for a solid win” in Game #1 of an 82 game schedule that will be full of games that don’t come close to simulating the will, heart and passion that’s needed to win a Game #7 in the playoffs.

The team that stands before you isn’t short on elimination game experience. Quite the contrary, as they have been eliminated in every single game in which they’ve been on the brink for years now. What they lack is any semblance of intensity. To make Brian Burke’s words my own:

They are not intense. That word is not in their vocabulary. It’s never going to be in their vocabulary. They can’t spell intense. They’re passive guys.

This is proven true by the terrible, lackluster, gutless performance to start last night’s contest. A timid group without any respect for the jersey limped into the season opener against a team that embarrassed them a few short months ago, and hung on tight, relying on their goaltender to bail them out, until they managed to find their stride.

Sorry, but this sounds exactly like the group that took to the ice last season, and not like a group that has an extra edge to want to succeeed, as described by head coach, Sheldon Keefe:

That, from the same Sheldon Keefe that couldn’t wake his group up when it meant the most and has accomplished as much in the playoffs as former head coach and Leafs Nation villain, Mike Babcock. Yes, the same Sheldon Keefe that can read the pulse of a room about as well as I can read a text book on advanced string theory that’s written in arabic….. in braille.

Regular season masterminds. From the GM to their 4th line plugs. The regular season is meaningless though, when you get down to brass tacks. It’s simply the road you need to travel in order to get to the games that matter. A show of skill that only exists to separate the top regular season teams from the bottom and to pad the pockets of billionaire owners that think of little more than the bottom line.

I won’t celebrate these minor accomplishments. These Game #1 wins that show nothing more than this team being exactly what this team has always been. Instead I’ll watch for improvement. I’ll watch for this team to progress in way’s that we haven’t witnessed yet. I’ll be looking for a team that actually gives a shit about their performance, their fans and, above all else, their jersey.

Enjoy the game.