The drought is over.
I don’t need to say much more than that.
It’s been a pretty awful nine years, but considering that we’ll be tuning in to CBC for a Leafs playoff game next week, I think it’s time to look back and exorcise some of the 2004-2012 Leafs’ demons that we’ve hopefully talked about for the last time. Well, at least without crying our eyes out.
This is part one, and the easy target would be the Dubeliewicz poke-check in 2007. But I’m not all about the glitz and glamor, and I’m going a little off the board first. I’m talking 2006. I’m talking Tellqvist in Montreal.
Guaranteed most Leafs fans will remember this, but if not, I’ll give you a quick refresh.
It was March 23, 2006, and the Leafs had 70 points – good for tenth in the conference and four points back of Atlanta for the final playoff spot. Montreal were slightly ahead in ninth with 73 points. The Leafs were riding Mikael Tellqvist (if you can call it that), who had just nabbed two wins against the Penguins and Canes, stopping 54 of 56 shots combined. It was time to fly in to Montreal for two straight against the Habs. Must-wins.
Tellqvist had been pretty solid in the AHL and I remember thinking “Maybe this is it, he’ll finally get it together for the Leafs.” But I was twenty years old and dumb as hell. Tellqvist went in to Montreal and got absolutely steamrolled. Four goals in the first period of the opening game. The Leafs lost 5-1. Even that face-slasher Perezhogin got a goal. I put my Tellqvist jersey order on hold.
There was still another game to play.
I’m not sure what the Leafs did for the next two days in Montreal, but not even an early Sundin goal could get things together in the second game. The Leafs went down 3-1 in the first and eventually lost 6-2 with Tellqvist allowing all six on 29 shots. Another blowout. Tellqvist wasn’t the next Belfour. He was just Tellqvist.
This was the same season that J-S Aubin came in and ran off a 9-0-2 record for the Leafs at season’s end. The Leafs missed the playoffs by two points and drafted Tlusty 13th overall.
Those two games in Montreal just stuck with me. I felt the Leafs could have just won those two, they were well on the way to the playoffs. Tellqvist went on to finish the season with an .895 sv% and was traded to Phoenix the next year. Just another example of how much awful goaltending stung the Leafs during the playoff drought.
But you know what, Mikael Tellqvist? I forgive you. The Leafs are in the postseason now, and I forgive you for 2006. Now you’re just a memory from the Leafs non-playoff era, which is an era I’m not too familiar with any longer.
Goodbye Mikael Tellqvist. We’ve hit the reset button.