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Dumb, fun, once-in-a-century: Leafs win wild one vs. Rangers

Toronto Maple Leafs fans probably should have known better.

Late in the first period, as the Maple Leafs built a 5-1 lead against the New York Rangers, the home crowd gave Henrik Lundqvist a “Bronx cheer” for one of his last saves of the period (and night).

You’ll encounter the phenomenon of a Bronx cheer when fans of a home team get on their goalie during a tough night - that couldn’t have helped a disgruntled Patrick Roy many moons ago in Montreal - but heckling the away netminder in that regard? Audacious.

It’s also probably a situation where fans take things for granted, and even largely starfallen Leafs fans might deserve some leeway: at that point, they followed up a 7-2 win with a 5-1 first period.

That crowd went from cocky and cackling to cold-quiet in the second period, however, as the Rangers managed a stunning comeback that locked the game at 5-5 heading into the third. All of a sudden, Frederik Andersen felt at least a portion of Lundqvist’s pain in a wild game.

Credit the Maple Leafs for shaking that off, and credit head coach Mike Babcock for being just open-minded enough, despite his hard-driving tendencies, to let this young team fight through the gaffes and letdowns.

Maybe it’s easier to find the lighter side of things when you’re winning 8-5 (as Toronto did on Saturday) rather than losing in such fashion.

“It’s kinda fun, eh? ... But it’s dumb,” Babcock said, and really explained this contest, not to mention some of Saturday’s wildest games overall.

That high-octane offense is something Toronto hockey fans haven’t seen in 100 years. No, that’s pretty much literally the case.

Hey, dumb and fun is the sort of thing that can work in sports. The Boston Red Sox crushed their curse with “idiots.” Sometimes the scariest athletic opponents are the ones who aren’t afraid to fail, and don’t allow thoughts of failure to slow them down.

It sure beats slow, boring, and on the wrong side of the scoreboard, too.