I watched that movie this past Sunday (so it was broken up by mini-naps) and clearly we have a case of life imitating art tonight as every team competing with the Leafs won. Here is some proof of the shenanigans going on in what can only be an attempt by the NHL to keep as many Canadian teams out of the playoffs. Something is definitely rotten in the NHL.
Washington 3 - Carolina 4: Washington scored those three goals on 10 freaking shots. Did Hanlon issue a no-shooting decree? This is a team that features Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Semin. Those two combine for 10 shots on a freaking shift. They have 593 shots between them this year. That means that they average 8 shots a game by themselves.
New Jersey 1 - Tampa Bay 3: Brodeur allowed 2 goals on 7 shots in the third period. Are we supposed to believe that a player that is well on his way to becoming THE greatest goalie in NHL history could not shut down the Lightning? Add in that the Devils are in danger of losing the division to the Penguins and something stinks.
Pittsburgh 1 - NY Islanders 3: The Penguins are within spitting distance of a division title and yet their vaunted powerplay goes 0-6 against the 19th ranked penalty kill? Not only did Crosby get shut out but Malkin missed a penalty shot! Pittsburgh won 75% of the neutral zone faceoffs but only 37% in the offensive zone. Pretty clear that they were trying not to score tonight. The league is really stretching reality with this one.
Montreal 6 - Boston 3: Maybe Gary Bettman was not clear in his memo that the losses have to at least look believable to a casual observer because the sad-sack Bruins clearly missed that part. After two strong periods gave them a 3-2 lead heading into the third the Bruins realized that they had to lose. They showed their intelligence by picking the most understated way possible to cough up the game: FOUR GOALS ON THE ONLY FOUR SHOTS OF THE PERIOD! Tim Thomas' bank account probably shows a hefty deposit, oh, sometime around 9:20pm.
Sure, that last one has a Canadian team winning which might seem like a hole in my theory (note, how Calgary is also on the verge of an epic collapse while teams are suddenly losing to the Avalanche like they are actually a good team) but the truth is that the Habs are a terrible team and will choke their playoff spot away anyway. Their wins serve to unsettle the Leafs since they know that they cannot miss the playoffs again while les habitants qualify.
And what of Vancouver and Ottawa? Well they have the biggest bandwagon fans. They'll be done with the playoffs once their teams are eliminated in the first round. Sorry Vancouver, no shootouts in the second season. My bad Ottawa, Gary Roberts will be around to haunt you.
And that brings me to the ultimate goal of this Bettman-led conspiracy: To kill Canada's pastime. Sure, his previous moves have been far from subtle - overexpansion, two lockouts, a TV contract with Versus - but he is clearly onto the understated part of his Machiavellian scheme. By ensuring that the playoffs lack a Canadian element beyond the first round he is making sure that the second season will continue to get laughable ratings. One more element in his grand plan to help out his first love, the NBA, but tonight I am blowing the lid off of his scheme.