Regardless of the won-loss record, at least now you can confidently say the Maple Leafs are battling. They deserved to win that game against the Buffalo Sabres if not for some absolute brilliance from Ryan Miller, who has a save percentage in the .950’s right now. And after much fretting about Toronto’s own lackluster goaltending, we have an answer in Jonas Gustavsson
Brian Burke told me he thinks the monster has the capability to be as good or if not better than Jonas Hiller, who’s a fine goalie in his own right. Gustavsson made three splendid saves in the second period, which kept his club in the game. Now if only the club can improve that troublesome penalty killing. 13 goals allowed in the last eight games shorthanded definitely does sting.RAPTORS
If I had predicted the club’s record after two games, I would’ve said 1-and-1, thinking they would lose to the serious contender in the Cavaliers and knock off the moribund Grizzlies. How funny how life ends up working out. Clearly the Raptors reside somewhere in between the highs of that win over the Cavs in which they had Andrea Bargnani flourishing and strong team defence harassing Cleveland into a poor shooting night and the at times, woeful exhibition in Memphis in which the team seemed to lose focus at times and unfortunately flushed away an eight point lead.
As excellent as Chris Bosh has been, it is slightly disconcerting that Zach Randolph, who once told me that he goes by the nickname Z-Bo from the movie Friday, still has 30 point games left in his arsenal. With a brutal early schedule for the Raps, they can’t afford any more letdowns against teams they should beat especially with the Magic in town on Sunday. With Rashard Lewis out serving his suspension and Vince Carter nursing a sprained ankle, Toronto should attack another vulnerable Eastern Conference foe.
OTHER STUFF ON MY MIND
- Leslie Nielson plays a she-male waitress in the new movie Stan Helsing
. That’s scarier than H1N1. I prefer to think of our homegrown Nielson as the goofy wackjob Lieutenant Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun series. “Nice beaver.” “Thanks. I just had it stuffed.”
- Just finished reading Joe Posnanski’s terrific new book, The Machine
, a look at the 1975 Cincinnati Reds which gains greater poignancy when you consider the Phillies are trying to become the first club since the Reds in the National League to win back-to-back championships. Manager Sparky Anderson once said of star catcher John
ny Bench, “don’t ever embarrass anyone by comparing them to Johnny Bench.” Bench suffered through the 1975 season with a terrible shoulder injury and a tumultuous marriage and once the final out was made turned to his wife and said, “now I’m done with two things I hate. Baseball and you.” The star of the show though is Pete Rose, who is almost sociopathic in his will to win, his all consuming obsession with his own statistics and dogged desire to be as fierce a competitor as ever walked the diamond.
- Splendid rendition of Empire State Of Mind
by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys before Game 2 of the World Series. Loved the reaction shot of Derek Jeter bopping his head and then sensing the cameras are on him, giving a sheepish smile. I’m sure Jay-Z who has more number one albums than Elvis, will give a splendid show on Halloween for the patrons at the ACC.
-Scariest movies I’ve ever seen? I’ll stick with classics like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist
and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining
. And as a kid, I remember being haunted by Robert DeNiro’s unrepentant Max Cady in Scorsese’s updated Cape Fear
. “14 years councilor…14 years…”