The Leafs visit Vancouver
The Leafs made their annual trip out to Vancouver last night, a game for which I’ve been able to secure tickets for the past two years. Of course, seeing as how I don’t really have any Leaf fan friends out here, I went with some Canucks fans. (Above is a blurry picture from my phone of the view from my seats. Yep. Waaaay up).
I’m able to attend a few games at Rogers Arena every year, but these Leaf games really are the best. And not just because I have a rooting interest in the game for once (it’s really hard to find someone to cheer for when it’s the Canucks playing the Flames, for instances) but more the atmosphere. As soon as you step foot into the stadium, there’s a buzz. Groups of Leaf fans huddle together while Canucks fans walk by and heckle them. The crowd is loud - much louder than even the playoff games I’ve been to. Everyone cares, even the corporate seasons ticket holders in the lower bowl who allow themselves to express their anti-Toronto feelings.
Of course, the last two years being the games I’ve attended, the results haven’t been what I’ve wished for. Last night they at least kept it close for most of the game. The two goals they gave up for the 2-0 Canucks lead were killers, coming so close to the end of a period as they did. I was very disappointed that they weren’t able to score on that 5-3 power play - especially on the sweet pass from Kessel to Versteeg that Luongo managed to stop. I was extremely happy with the PK though - I went in fearing that a couple of bad penalties (like the ones Komisarek took) would put us into a deep hole and we’d never look back.
All in all it was a fun game. Though last year’s was more fun - my entire row was full of Leaf fans and the one guy behind me who was trying to heckle Toskala (who was injured and not even dressed - maybe not even on the trip) I was able to shut up with a good rant about how Canucks fans are too stupid to learn the names of the players in their opponent’s line up. This year… the one Leaf fan directly in front of me was too quiet, one of the group of guys behind me was an idiot (I almost went over and had a talk with him because he was making us all look like fools, but fortunately his buddies felt the same way). It’s too bad that some go over the top in their trash talk. But it just served as another reminder that just because someone’s a Leafs fan doesn’t mean I have to agree with them, or even like them.
It was too bad the scoreboard ended the way it did. I also dispute the in-house selection of the 3 stars - Bieksa at #3, Kesler at #2 and Luongo at #1. Both my Canucks buddies and I said “huh?” when Bieksa’s name was announced, and I really don’t think Luongo had much to do with the win at all, aside from one really good save. The Leafs chances were just not that difficult to stop.
Hopefully next year, I’ll get tickets too, and the Leafs will have finally turned the corner into competing.