Ladies and Gentleman, your Toronto Maple Leafs top line: Alex Steen, Alex Ponikorovsky, and Kyle Wellwood.
Cue the ACC "Let's Get Loud" graphics!
It's not as if this team wasn't already pushing against a stack of odds higher than that stupid tower next to the skydome. It's not as if "hope" wasn't an ugly chick over by the slot machine with only a few quarters left in her bucket. It's not as if this hill wasn't already as steep as Bathurst and Davenport in an ice storm.
Now it's come down to this:
"There are certainly players on our bench who can play in our top nine, who believe they could score, who believe they should score, if the coach would just play them more..." said Maurice. "There they go. They have all the opportunity in the world."
Who might he be talking about? Is it Kyle Wellwood, Mr. point-a-game in 06/07 repackaged in 07/08 as the softest player to ever wear hockey skates? Or Jason Blake, skating the puck around the perimeter as if killing time until his train arrives? Alex Ponikorovsky, with his pigeon-like killer instinct? Jiri Tlusty, who should be in the AHL? Mark Bell, his face hidden behind that full cage the most appropriate metaphor? Or maybe it's Darcy Tucker, the high priced veteran forward who's apparently holding out on more than just his no-trade clause?
There was something inspiring about Sundin refusing to go and then taking his team upon his shoulders for the last 3 weeks. It had drama. It had the makings of a story we would all tell our kids one day, about how against all odds the Leafs pulled one out.
Now it just feels kind of done.
Islanders 3 Toronto 1.