Sometimes an event is so surprising that it needs a repeated mention: the Toronto Maple Leafs are officially going to the 2013 playoffs.
Buds GM Dave Nonis decided to celebrate this moment (and thank fans for sticking things out since their last postseason berth in 2004) by sending an open letter to Leafs devotees. Here are a few of the highlights (click this link for the full letter).
“On behalf of the entire Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club, I would like to extend a sincere thank you for your continued loyalty and support.
Leafs fans are the most passionate and dedicated in all of hockey.
Your presence at Air Canada Centre and in our opponent’s rinks does not go unnoticed.
You are valued members of our team.”
One almost expected a group hug to follow that letter.
Certain aspects of playoff positioning are still up for grabs in the East, yet you can’t blame the Maple Leafs for taking a little victory lap here and there.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: