If yesterday's talk of adding another team in Toronto wasn't wacky enough for you (even though it is feasible), then you were in luck -- things just kept getting wackier in the city. There was only one game going on in Toronto, but the Maple Leafs and Ducks still managed to have a couple Bizarro World-type moments. And I'm not talking about things like "oh the puck took some odd bounces." No, these moments were more along the lines of why sports are so unique. Every time you go to an arena or watch a game on TV, there's the chance you will see something that you have never seen before or at the very least you may view a rare feat. There were a pair of odd plays in this game, the first of which will be second guessed endlessly.
The game was a rare visit to Ontario for the Ducks Formerly Known as Mighty. The teams were tied through overtime and headed to a shootout when Ron Wilson pulled the unorthodox and, to my knowledge, never before tried strategy of putting in his backup for the skills competition. Yup, despite Vesa Toskala stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced during regulation and overtime, Wilson called upon Curtis Joseph to face the Ducks in a shootout. From the moment CuJo stepped on the ice you knew this was going to be one of those coaching moves that could only look good if it worked.
The bad news for Wilson and the Leafs was that his decision worked out about as poorly as it possibly could have.
The Leafs wouldn't even make it to the third round of the shoot out, as Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne would both easily put pucks past CuJo (seriously, the destruction of CuJo was swift and painless as you can see in this video), who probably wasn't even close to warmed up. Tomas Kaberle and Nikolai Kulemin came up short on their attempts for Toronto and the Leafs were treated to an embarrassing shootout loss on home ice, after they had made a nice comeback from a 2-0 first period deficit.
In Wilson's defense, he was simply playing the statistics. Not a bad move, that was sort of taken out of a baseball manager's playbook -- a person who always plays the percentages. Prior to tonight's game, Joseph was 5-3 in shootouts with a .750 save percentage while Toskala was 2-9 with a .486 save percentage. Looks like a pretty easy decision, right? Well, sometimes there are other factors at play. One is Joseph's increasing age (41 years). Another is that you can never be sure how a goalie will fair after sitting on the bench for nearly three hours. It's simply not fair to expect CuJo to perform at a .750 clip when he's coming into the game cold.
There was one other rare moment from tonight's game that really stick out in my mind: George Parros, mustache and all, scoring on a breakaway for the Ducks. Awesome. Simply awesome. It was his second goal of the year, but only his sixth in 165 career NHL games. At this pace, Parros is on track for a 23 goal season. It's a good thing too, because the Ducks could use as many goals as they can get right now.