Sometimes when you stay home with an illness, the combination of cold medication and cabin fever makes you think dumb thoughts. Dumber than usual, anyway.
Today, that dumb thought occurred when I saw that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be without Olli Maatta for 3-4 weeks and Rob Scuderi would be Kris Letang’s defence partner. For a second I actually let myself think the following dopey thought: What if the Leafs finished ahead of the Penguins this season?
No. No, Steve. No. Stop that. That’s not happening. There is no way the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs will finish ahead of the Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins…
…but if they did it could be really funny. Allow me to count the ways.
HILARIOUS FOR LEAFS FANS
A team that looks like the Leafs on paper, and in a rebuilding year, finishing ahead of a team that looks like the Penguins on paper, in a “going for it” year, is amazing and deserving of its own documentary. I’d donate to it. I’d even do an interview for it where I just laugh for 15 minutes.
HILARIOUS FOR ALL NON-PENGUINS FANS
Imagine if not only the Leafs finish ahead of the Penguins but Pittsburgh also misses the playoffs.
EVEN MORE HILARIOUS FOR LEAFS FANS
What if the Penguins make the playoffs, have to give the Leafs their first-rounder, and lose to Toronto in Round One?
HILARIOUS FOR PITTSBURGH FANS
Missed the playoffs? Not to worry. One of the conditions on the first-rounder the Penguins gave the Leafs for Phil Kessel says that if Pittsburgh misses the playoffs then they get to keep their 2016 first.
EVEN MORE HILARIOUS FOR PITTSBURGH FANS
Imagine if the Penguins win the draft lottery and get to pick Phil Kessel’s new linemate Auston Matthews.
We’ve only touched on the possibilities in the standings so far. What about the individual players?
He is second on the Penguins for points, tied for first in goals, and has 15 more shots than anybody else on his team. That, of course, will not stop him from being labelled a coach-killer once Mike Johnston is inevitably fired.
I can think of no funnier scenario than the Penguins firing Johnston and replacing him with Randy Carlyle.
Remember when Phil Kessel’s departure was supposed to make Tyler Bozak instantly stink? He’s currently tied with Kessel in points with 12 and is on pace for a career-high 62 points. Imagine if Bozak outscored Kessel this season.
Guess who has as many points as Nick Spaling and in more games played so far! We were so fixated on the Kessel-Bozak breakup that we forgot players on Pittsburgh would be affected by the trade, too.
Forget Phil Kessel. Bozak currently has three times as many points as Brandon Sutter’s replacement.
Despite the Kessel trade, the Leafs still have a top line right-winger who has a last name that starts with K. He and Kessel both have six goals so far.
Has the season of his career but finishes second in Vezina voting behind James Reimer.
Scores his second of the season in the Leafs’ final regular season game to help eliminate the Penguins.
“You know, I enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh but I’m just happy to be back with a true contender.”
This is all just fun and games, spitballing, and silly thoughts brought to you by cold medication. The odds of any of these things lasting or happening is slim to none. The Leafs might be hot right now but they’re eight points back of Pittsburgh and the Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.
The odds of people freaking out about this post without actually reading it are much higher than the Leafs finishing ahead of the Penguins. Let’s not let that stop anybody though. It’s fun to use your imagination!