This is a collaborative post by Sarah and myself.
This was, by far, the funniest game either of us has ever seen. From the expressions of Paul Maurice, to the excessive and outrageous penalties, to the random attack on Kirk Maltby in the Toronto net, to Andrew Raycroft’s antics … this game never failed to entertain. This was not the kind of entertainment one would usually expect from a hockey game. There were big checks and lots of goals — what you’d anticipate from a good game. But there was also so much more. There was dancing, hugging, and juggling. Yes, juggling. Disappointed with the way the game was going, Raycroft attempted a career change in the second period. His juggling ambitions were short-lived however, as he almost scored on himself.
Detroit took their first penalty at 5:06 (Dan Cleary for hooking). Toronto would not be outdone, and took their first of many at 7:49. Steen was sent to the box for interference – and so began the exodus to the penalty box. Cut to Paul Maurice: the emotionally battered Toronto Maple Leafs coach wears what will become a recurring sarcastic smirk. Chad Kilger thought Steen could use a little company in his shame, so he took a tripping penalty at 8:04. The Wings were rewarded with their first 5 on 3 opportunity.
This is when Detroit began a little trend of their own. Just after the Steen penalty expired, Pavel Datsyuk sent a pass through the crease, which was redirected by Cleary to a wide-open Mikeal Samuelsson, who promptly shoveled it into the net. 1-0 Detroit. Paul Maurice can only chuckle as he finds his team in an all-too-familiar position.
Near the end of the first, Tomas Holmstrom is knocked down to the ice, seemingly taken out of the play. Kilger will take no risks, however, and jumps on top of him to prevent him from … well, we’re not really sure. Standing up? Using his mind powers to put the puck in the net? It’s anyone’s guess, really. Meanwhile, Henrik Zetterberg backhands the puck past Raycroft. 2-0 Detroit.
At 2:06 of the second, the Wings take their standard too many men on the ice penalty, served by Tomas Kopecky. The Toronto power play resembles the Wings power play we’ve all become accustomed to – pass, pass, pass, chase the puck to the other end of the ice, pass, pass some more, blocked shot, pass, pass, missed shot, pass, pass, penalty over.
At 10:17 of the second, a shot of the Toronto bench finds Maurice smirking. Once again, one of his players has found his way into the box. The Wings take full advantage with another Samuelsson goal. Nicklas Lidstrom passes the puck back to Sammy, who lets loose a beautiful wrist shot, beating Raycroft gloveside at 10:42. 3-0 Detroit.
At 11:54, Andreas Lilja gets called for hooking. The Toronto power play finally catches a break ten second later when Dominik Hasek misreads a play and goes down way too early, leaving the left side of his net vulnerable to Bryan McCabe’s dangerous slapshot. 3-1 Detroit.
The next penalty that Toronto takes is a hooking call on Pavel Kubina at 15:14. Kubina hooks Maltby, the whistle blows, and Kubina becomes furious with Kopecky. Why, you ask? We don’t know either. Somehow, in Kubina’s mind, the whole thing is apparently Tomas’ fault.
Mats Sundin takes a hooking penalty at 19:38, and the Wings power play continues to roll. Datsyuk takes a backhand shot, a sure goal, one would think. But it hits the post, and our celebration is halted mid-high-five. We hover inches above our seats in suspended motion until Zetterberg finishes what Datsyuk started, scoring his second of the game at 19:58. 4-1 Detroit. At the same time, Matt Stajan sets the Wings up for their eighth power play to start the third, with a cross check.
The third period finds a new goalie in net for the Leafs as Jean-Sebastian Aubin relieves the failed juggler, Raycroft. Cleary promptly initiates him into the game, scoring at 1:15. 5-1 Detroit.
A shocking amount of penalties are called during the third, with Detroit doubling their minutes and Toronto very nearly doing the same, which is impressive considering the fact that they had already taken eight penalties. Jason Williams goes for hooking at 2:12, followed shortly by Kris Draper at 2:32. Toronto squanders their first and only 5 on 3. At 6:42, our friend Kilger becomes devastatingly homesick. To remedy the situation, he takes an interference call, allowing him to return to his beloved box.
At 15:32, Hasek leaves his net to negate a breakaway. He clears the puck away, has his right foot kicked out from underneath him, and is penalized for diving. Who knew that the inability to balance on one foot while spinning consitutes a penalty? Clearly, Dom just needs some figure skating lessons.
By the end of the game, the Maple Leafs have lost all self-control. This is evidenced by the cross-check of Maltby into the net, where he is subsequently jumped on and shoved repeatedly into the ice, much to the chagrin of Aubin, who would prefer that any and all fights take place outside of his net. Meanwhile, Maltby can only laugh. The look on his face seems to say, “Is this really happening?” The look on Paul Maurice’s face says the same thing, though in a very different way. For some reason he’d thought he was done coaching an AHL team… Fittingly, the Wings end the game with a 5 on 3.
In the end, the Leafs had 28 penalty minutes to our 16. We’re convinced that this is due to an effort on their part to educate new fans of the various types of penalties, showing as many as they could manage in two and a half hours. To give them credit, they did accomplish more than the refs awarded them.
Odds are Toronto will play a very different game next time they visit … in six years or so. (This is assuming the NHL sticks to its current ridiculous scheduling approach.)