Vesa Toskala -- or "ToskaLOL" as he became known among Leafs fans who were all too happy to see him go -- has found some semblance of a new life on his third team this year. Last night he made 32 saves for his second win as countryman Miikka Kiprusoff's Calgary backup.
But two years ago today may have been the first big Toskalol moment -- a lapse in concentration (and some bad Coliseum bounces) that at the time seemed like simply bad luck for a decent goalie. The two miserable Leafy seasons that followed made it seem like something else.
It still hasn't gotten old, because it was just too remarkable, too funny. I love that it was scored by an anonymous player (Rob Davison). I love that it was scored not just from the Isles' own zone but from behind their goal line. I love that it was a shorthanded goal, too. And I love that, while often you hear a crowd's roar build in anticipation on a breakaway, this time you heard it build because the puck reached the Leafs' slot taking some suspiciously funny bounces. Some bounces that spelled trouble.
It was like watching a disturbed person walk down the street: Your senses heightened, an intuitive human instinct tells you something strange is about to happen. Watching that puck bounce in the slot, you knew it might do something crazy like put a hex on Vesa. Cue the goal horn.
The Leafs ended up winning that one 3-1, so no harm done. After Rick DiPietro's All-Star Game injury, the Islanders' playoff position faded, and they were 32-35-7 (71 pts. after 74 games) after this game, sitting in 13th place in the East and heading for the #5 slot in the draft (which they traded downward, twice, to pick Josh Bailey at #9). The Leafs were five points better (76 points) at that point, and ultimately traded up for the Isles' spot to draft Luke Schenn.
Today the Islanders have 67 points after 70 games, 12th in the East. Pretty similar spot as two seasons ago, but somehow it feels like things are pointed in a better direction. The Leafs meanwhile have 60 points in 70 games, sit 29th in the league and, well, their direction seems different today too.