Friday, 12 April 2013

Crouching Kessel, Hidden Gardiner

The annual game of leap frog in the standings has made Leafs fans feel like they are trapped in a giant hamster ball that bounces around a giant roulette wheel. Where the ball lands is still uncertain, but the last 48 hours have seen fans elated by a possible Habs match up and then deflated by a chance that the Leafs will play Boston in the first round of the playoffs.

Since the Leafs have been all-but dominated by the Bruins over the last two years, hopeful Leafs fans have been sobered up before they even felt the intoxicating buzz of playoff hockey. Personally, I'm already having nightmares about Bruins fans celebrating a sweep of the Leafs by brandishing Swiffers with "thank you Kessel" stamped on them.

OR perhaps the dread of facing Boston is completely unfounded. Maybe Dave Nonis--seated in some dimly-lit, dystopian office--is laughing right now as everything has developed as planned.

What if the Leafs have been coy over the last two years, making it seem as though they are unable to beat the Bruins? What if, now that everyone (including the Bs themselves) expect an easy sweep if this match up happens, the Leafs shock the world by turning TD Garden into a bear-baiting ring?

Not buying it? Consider the following statistical absurdity: Phil Kessel is a point-per-game player right now, and yet he (if I'm not mistaken) hasn't scored against Boston this entire season. Furthermore, his record against Boston has been pathetic since he became a Leaf. Does Kessel simply forget how to play hockey because the sight of his old team dumbfounds him, or is he simply holding back?

I predict that Kessel is stockpiling offensive energy for the first day of the playoffs, in which he will score 42 goals, notch 39 assists, KO Tyler Seguin off the opening face off, and end the game with a +/- rating of +7. When he levelled Seguin last month, Kessel--who is likely in on the conspiracy--gave us a teaser of what's to come in the playoffs.

Here comes the #81 pain-train: destination, Sweepsville.

How will Kessel score so many goals against Boston? Simple through the Leafs' previous tampering with Tuukka Rask's DNA. Few doubt that Boston won the Rask-for-Raycroft trade in 2006. But this apparently lopsided deal may have actually been a deviously well-orchestrated attempt to infiltrate and then implode Boston's crease by sending them a goalie who is biologically wired to self-destruct this spring. The Leafs could have struck earlier, but Boston moved Tim Thomas ahead of Rask in their goalie depth. Now with Thomas' mysterious disappearance, the Leafs' patience will finally pay off.

So to recap, Leafs fans have nothing to fear because they have lulled the Bruins into a false sense of superiority, which will be shattered when Kessel unleashes his full offensive potential on a goaltender whose athletic ability has served as a Trojan horse concealing the genetic deficiencies that have turned him into something like a fifth column. Add to this conspiracy theory the possibility that Brain Burke was fired because he wouldn't cooperate with these plans, and every blunder the Leafs have made over the last seven years suddenly seems ingenious.

Still not convinced? Consider this last point: Nonis' name backwards is Sinon, which is the name of the guy who convinced the Trojans to tear down their walls and bring the Trojan horse into the city.

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