They will speak about the last time this happened: Those halcyon days of 2004 when “Mean Girls” was atop the box office, Google had just announced its IPO and Phil Mickelson won his first major.
They will speak about it in hushed tones, honoring both the enormity of the achievement and its bewildering nature. Of JVR’s Immaculate Deflection, and his Rebound of Glory. Of Nazem Kadri’s laser rocket shot that disintegrated Craig Anderson’s pads. Of whatever Joffrey Lupul did on that fourth goal, because the highlight wasn’t on NHL.com when I started writing this. Of the 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, and the ticket it punched.
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They will speak about making history in the Battle of Ontario, against an inconsequential rival with a provincial inferiority complex. They will speak about how Frazer McLaren head-butted that dude in a fight. Twice.
They will speak about getting outshot 50-22, marking the ninth time they’ve been out-shot by double-digits this season. They will speak about how no other postseason qualifier has had a larger shot differential in the last 11 years. (Thanks Elliotte Friedman for that stat.)
They’ll speak about Phil and Dion and Clarke and Colton and Bozak and Grabo and the rest of the guys Brian Burke acquired so Dave Nonis could watch a playoff game from his old chair.
They’ll speak about how no one thought their team could achieve this, outside of celebrated pundits like Ryan Lambert. They’ll speak about how they overcame great odds to earn this honor, and did it the old fashioned way: With a goalie who allowed two or fewer goals in 9 of his last 14 starts. You know, one that almost became a second-stringer at the trade deadline.
They will speak about all of these things, share knowing glances and smile wistfully as they sip overpriced beer at Real Sports.
Because the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Congratulations to the long-suffering Leafs fans who have mocked, ridiculed and dumped on for nearly a decade due to their franchise’s ineptitude.
Congratulations to Phil Kessel, who will now probably win the Conn Smythe and still have half the NHL’s punditry calling him selfish and underwhelming. Congratulations to Randy Carlyle on having a hot goalie. And congratulations to Rogers and Bell on the revenue.
Thanks for sticking with us. Playoff hockey back at ACC. Sounds pretty good to me.
— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) April 21, 2013
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