I know, I was slacking last night on the updates. But you can't swing a rally towel around this Internet without hitting a blogger doing live game updates, so I'm sure I wasn't missed. Besides, everyone knows when my friend Vicki is in the building, I'm generally MIA from the box.
But here's where I come in handy: The post game.
So after watching the longest third period any of us have ever witnessed there wasn't the normal sense of disapointment heading down to the post game. An exciting way to tie up the game, a spirited overtime and then the stand-on-the-chair so you can see shoot out was entertaining enough to make us all forget about the loss.
Since the Leafs had scored two goals, one at the very beginning of both the first and second periods, Gordon was asked if it was difficult to not be deflated by such quick scoring. I loved his answer:
"We could have easily deflected after our extended losing streak in December. The one thing I stress to our players, we are building something here for next year. And I'm not going to stop coaching and trying to get our team to be better and I expect the same from all our players, but particularly the guys who will be here next year to get a better understanding of the system play, HOW we want to play and our team identity. It's all going to be built the second half of the season. I've said, as much as I want to win, and I know the guys on the team want to win the objective is to get better. And considering the circumstances of what we've had to go through, considering the injuries and Ricky being out all year, we've had hurdles and adversity. And one of the key areas of how we handle it is our character and not breaking away from what we want our team identity to be."
Of course, we're not 100% sure who WILL be here next year.
Gordon explained how the ref told him that Brendan Witt just got caught in an unfortunate situation which earned him a 5 minute major game misconduct. We'll have to see how the league feels about it later today.
But it was Gordon's discussion about Sean Bergenheim that made me stand there smiling quietly. Scott compared recently traded Chris Campoli to Sean Bergenheim in the fact that both of them had talked to Scott about their roles on the team. It's obvious that Sean reacted somewhat differently than Chris.
"Someone who, for me, has turned a corner is Sean Bergenheim. He didn't like his situation, we talked about it. He didn't like my conversation and a week or two after the initial discussion, we had ANOTHER discussion. I think he saw the big picture a little clearer. Immediately there was a situation that happened to him that his response was what I would have expected of anyone on our team, but it was different from what he would have had in the past. Which to me, was very encouraging."
It seems that Campoli couldn't make it work for him with Gordon.
"They're not always going to see eye-to-eye with what I see, but in the process, I'm always trying to work with them and get them to see things in a different perspective and hopefully they come around."
Chris didn't. He proceeded to say that if the room is better without him, so be it. OUCH!!
Scott continued to talk about Sean, "With Bergie, you're always going to see his physical play, his skating. He's a strong kid and for me what's changed he's challenging himself offensively to do more things. I don't mean trying to beat people one-on-one or trying to make plays which shouldn't be part of his repertoire. He's challenging himself more with the puck, to be a puck possession guy, to protect the puck better, to be deceptive, to cut back on the opposition. And as a result more things are happening for him offensively."
Jon Sim, looking healthy and happy was waiting in the locker room. He explained his goal as a "...great pass from Strieter and I just took the puck down the wing and let her rip....Everyone wants to play. You're happy when you get a lot of ice time and you're not happy when you don't play a lot. You still have to go to work and work hard."
It was very humble and he gave Mark Streit a lot of praise for his play.
We continued the Bergie Love Fest in the locker room when he came in to address the media.
"The penalty shot; I had something in mind. But he left that side open so I changed it. I was going to deke but I shot it. I wanted to lift it a little higher but it just didn't go where I wanted it. And then the goal was where I figured, I'm going to deke this time and it worked."
He should have known better as it seems that Sean and Toskala know each other pretty well. Although the comeback was encouraging, Sean's thoughts on the game were telling.
"We had a pretty bad start, but we picked it up. I think we played much better and killed a five minute major. Five on five, I think we had a pretty good game. It was good that we got the one point and we came back, it shows something about the team, but of course, we have to find a way to win these games. "
And that's what Scott is trying to teach them.... for next season.