Contributed by resident fantasy fanatic, Tilt’d Toledo
Brothers and sisters, I must confess my sins to you and to God. I, Giancarlo Toledo, am guilty of having doubted the Avmighty Saviour.
“And if any man hear of my work, and believe not, I judge him not:
for I came not to judge the world, but to save.”
- The Book of Budaj 12:47
And so it was written. Well, not quite written. The score was final, but I hadn’t actually written it up, yet. Though this stuff practically does practically write itself, so, in a way, yeah. So it was written.
My story begins three days ago, when I lamented that, “For my team to make it, I needed to be near perfect AND hope that one of my five competitors had an unlikely collapse.” It was early Sunday evening. My 8th place Hotspurs were leading the 9th place Load & Lock team by a score of (15-3-3).
Trouble was, I trailed the 5th place Centennial Year team by a whopping 17 Points in the standings. To make matters worse, he was leading his own Matchup against Puckdogs, by a (12-6-3) score. For me to catch him in the standings, I needed to make up 8½ games on him AND pass the 6th place team.
I had expressed my urgent need for Peter Budaj post a shutout that night in Vancouver, before learning that Andrew Raycroft would be the surprise starter. Thankfully, my opponent’s only goalie in action was Josh Harding, who faced only six shots in a single period of relief. So the Shutouts category remained tied, but Budaj had already compensated for Jon Quick’s mediocre play, to give me the other six categories.
That left me with only 5 offensive categories where I could make up any ground. We were tied in GWGs and SHAs, while I trailed in Assists, PPAs and FWs. With my whole season on the line, the only friggin’ thing I managed to do that day, was take the Faceoff Wins category. My scorecard showed a lead of (16-2-3), as I limped into the clubhouse. In other words, I now needed Centennial to blow 4½ categories in his (12-6-3) lead over Puckdogs, thereby scoring no more than 18 points to put up against my 35-point effort. Here’s how it all went down.
Centennial had seen his 16-1 lead from Wednesday, shrink from a fifteen point margin, to a mere six on Sunday afternoon. Score (12-6-3)
Centennial led the Assists category by 2. His players netted a couple of goals, but added no helpers on Sunday. Puckdogs’ players scored 5 assists to take the category. Score: (11-7-3)
Centennial led the Plus/Minus category by a +3. His players were just awful on defence, combining to go –8 on Sunday. Puckdogs’ players went +4 to take the category. Score (10-8-3)
Both teams were tied with 10 Power-Play Points apiece. Centennial’s players failed to score a single PPP on Sunday. Puckdogs’ players scored 5 to take the category. Score: (10-9-2)
Centennial led the Shots category by 9. His players kept passing the puck and ended up taking only 12 shots on Sunday. Puckdogs’ players took 30 to take the category. Score (9-10-2)
Centennial led the Faceoffs category by 15. His centermen were horrendous, winning a total of only 6 draws on Sunday. Puckdogs’ players won 35 to take the category. Score (8-11-2)
Final Score: A total of 4½ categories were blown; only 18 Pts were scored by Centennial. Tally up my 35 points to make up for the original 17-point deficit in the standings, and voilà. My Hotspurs manage to tie Centennial for 6th place. With the tiebreaker being most Categories Won, I slip into the post-season through the back door. You couldn’t make that stuff up if you tried. It was freakin’ biblical.
When you look at it, my victory was largely a product of team offence, with big contributions from a trio of scorers. With due respect to all three skaters, only two will be named to Week 23’s Molson Cup 3-Star Selections. The player who single-handedly helped my Hotspurs score the needed 16-2 victory, is the man who grabbed 13 of a possible 14 goaltending points, our own Peter Budaj.
In the midst of the frenzy that was last week’s Trade Deadline, I lost sight of the original plan. After drafting Budaj in the 4th Round (78th overall), I was actually foolish enough to offer him up for Raycroft and a winger. The only explanation I can come up with is that the offer lay untouched, through Divine intervention, as part of His plan to see me win this thing.