There's nothing like Hab fans to get a hockey fan thinking with some common sense.
I won't point the finger at my buddy Freeway Frank because I think a big part of his Hab fan act is simply a reaction to the bombs I throw to him periodically.
I'll admit, I like to bait Hab fans because it's so easy to get a reaction out of them. So hung up on things that happened almost two decades ago, its fun to push their stupid button and listen to all that shit about 25 Stanley Cups like it actually applies to what's going on today.
It's like a Blue Jay fan still harpin' about '92 and 93. It's irrelevant.
In some respects it's a good thing that the Maple Leafs have lost two games in a row, because it would probably lesson this essay if I brought it up during an extended winning streak.
Yes, the Leafs have gathered nine out of a possible 12 points recently, but I'd rather look at the big picture, the entire season to date.
Isn't it amazing that Hab fans like to piss all over the Leafs like there's light years between the two franchises, when really there's not? On the contrary, there's a fine line that separates the two teams and they could change sides in the blink of an eye.
After Leafs shootout loss to the Flames last night, and the Habs victory over the Rangers, the Habs have 12 more points than the Leafs in the standings, but Toronto has a game in hand.
The Habs have played 45 games while the Leafs have played 44, but over that stretch the Leafs have lost only six more games, notable yes, but not nearly the lopsided embarrassment that Hab fans would like to promote.
Scratch lightly below the surface and it gets more interesting. The Leafs have lost one quarter of their games this season by one goal, yet they have the youngest team in the NHL. The Leafs have actually scored more goals than the Habs but the break-down occurs in goals against. The Leafs have allowed 24 more.
That's where we get to the fine line. The Leafs veteran defensemen have under achieved this year while the rest of the team have reacted exactly how the youngest team in the NHL should react. They've made mistakes that young teams make, teams that are on the upswing of a learning curve.
Any fan, including any Hab fan could look at the Leafs season so far and recall at least six games that they could have or should have won but they broke down in the late going, some of due to the defensive corp that is lacking, but also a good measure rests on the shoulders of the youngsters.
I hate to break it to Hab fans but there really isn't that much to choose between the two teams and part of that has been displayed by the fact the Leafs have won two of three meetings this year.
It's become part of the culture in Toronto to be impatient and rightly so, but sometimes this clouds the facts.
Forget the Phil Kessel trade, because that's water under the bridge, instead we should look at Kessel the Leaf, the player he is now, and you know what, it ain't so bad. Phil Kessel is far from the problem, if anything; he's a big part of the solution that could play itself out over the next couple of years.
Kessel has 19 goals this season, and in case you didn't know, that's more than the following list of players.
Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Evgani Malkin, John Tavaras, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatly, Patrick Marleau and absolutely every member of the Montreal Canadiens.
It was this kind of production I'm sure that Brian Burke had in mind when he made the trade. In many ways, Kessel has not disappointed and given that he's only 22 years old, and that there's a team maturing around him with a defense that can only get better, there's actually reason for optimism.
Should we consider that Burke does know what he's doing but we just want results too fast?
I understand the frustrations of Leaf fans, and its human nature to want things now as opposed to later, but I'm still a Brian Burke fan and I think later may be a lot sooner than we think. A couple of strategic acquisitions along with the other points I've made could turn this thing around pretty fast.
The definition of the term fine line is this - "so similar that one can easily become the other."
It's comin' Hab fans.