If there’s one constant for the Maple Leafs this season it’s been the often times stellar work of Ian White. In the past he’s shown his versatility as a defenceman or as a forward and has often had to fight and claw for ice time. Then after the Maple Leafs added big names in Mike Komisarek
and Francois Beauchemin, there was some thought that White would be expendable. But he’s been a rock for the Leafs his season and his game-winner Sunday night versus the Penguins just reinforces his season.
He’ll be due a big raise in the offseason but until then, he keeps turning heads for his solid two-way play and excellent positioning. He’s second on the team’s defence in scoring with 21 points in 40 games and leads everyone with a plus-minus of plus-9 -- no mean feat when you consider the Leafs had some terrible defensive performances earlier in the season. He also sports the finest moustache currently of any Toronto athlete, which counts as bonus points in my book. RAPTORS
We all knew this was a soft spot for the Raptors in their schedule after some heavy sledding to begin the campaign. But give credit where credit is due -- the Raptors certainly have delivered. For the first time all season, they’re riding a four-game winning streak and in all four contests have held their opponents to under 100 points -- improving to 12-0 this season when that occurs. They’ve done a much better job on the perimeter, extending their defence to the 3-point line and have limited dribble penetration. Also what’s stood out for me is how important it is for Hedo Turkoglu’s game to have the ball run through him on the offensive end and how that isn’t a necessity for Jarrett Jack, who’s really done a terrific job as the starter.
It’s also the first time in the raptors 15-year history that they’ve won three games in a season over the Pistons, whose returning nucleus of Gordon, Prince and Hamilton clearly showed their rust. Ultimately for the Raptors, if they can knock off the Bobcats on Wednesday, they’ll be just one game under .500 and sixth in the Eastern Conference. After that it’s the Celtics, Spurs and Magic but having to face those big three riding a five-game winning streak certainly would make things much easier in the T-Dot. OTHER STUFF ON MY MIND
- Every year I purchase some egg nog just to get in the yuletide spirit. The first glass goes down rough and I question my sanity for drinking this murky concoction. But after glass three, I’ve convinced myself it’s the sweet elixir to life. Help me.
- Vintage scramble by my boy Donovan McNabb turning around another Eagles win after the Broncos stormed back from a 17 point deficit. Huge game with the Cowboys to decide the division on Sunday and thankfully the Raptors aren’t playing until 6 p.m.!
- We began the decade with Baha Men’s who let the dogs out as the ubiquitous single of the year. Say what you will about the Black Eyed Peas, but I got a feeling
is a definite upgrade.
Thought James Cameron’s Avatar
was very good, which is excellent considering the weight of expectations coming in. Didn’t see it on the IMAX theatre downtown since it was sold out but still felt reliably geekier than usual wearing those 3-D glasses. Although the story was reminiscent of Dances With WolvesZ
and some of the dialogue was clunkier than much of the programming you currently find on MuchMusic, you can’t deny the visceral feel of the action sequences, especially the gung-ho climax. Cameron’s a visionary and the first glimpse of the hanging mountains really does inspire awe. Special shout out to Stephen Lang, playing a psychotic military man who I loved as the bad guy in the underrated Michael J. Fox/James Woods comedy The Hard Way
and also earlier this season got to play the man who riddled Johnny Depp’s John Dilinger with bullets in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies