This post kicks off a new series where we'll occasionally look back at memorable Leaf playoff overtime goals. Today's goal is Mike Foligno's winner against the Red Wings in game five of the 1993 playoffs, which gave the Leafs a 3-2 series lead.
Any Leaf fan over the age of 25 should remember Mike Foligno's overtime goal against the Red Wings. Probably the most famous goal of Foligno's long career, it served as turning point in the Leafs' eventual series win that launched the rebirth of the Leafs as quasi-contenders.
Heading into game five in Detroit, the series had been predictable: the heavily favored Wings had won two blowouts at home, while the underdog Leafs had won two squeakers at MLG. Mid-way through the game it seemed like the pattern would hold, as the Leafs were trailing 4-1.
Thanks to a furious comeback by the Leafs and some Toskalish goaltending by Tim Cheveldae, the two teams went to overtime for the first time in the series. And just two minutes in, this happened:
The video pretty much speaks for itself, and I could just end the post here. But I hope everyone realizes by now that that's not the way things work around these parts.
No, instead we're going to analyze the entire clip in ridiculous detail. Here are nine interesting things about this goal:
The play starts with one of the worst overtime giveaways in recent memory. Bob Probert has an easy path out of the Wings zone, but sees a check coming from Foligno and throws the puck carelessly along the blueline instead.
Now a lot of people will criticize Probert for this one, but I'm going to defend him. Put yourself in his position. He's trying to make a play along the boards when out of the corner of his eye he sees somebody skating towards him wearing a Maple Leafs jersey with the numbers "1" and "7" on it.
Every other time this happened to Probert in his career, he spent the next few days trying to poop out shards of his own teeth. So I don't think you can blame him for going into full-on panic mode here. I think he actually showed a lot of restraint by not finding the nearest exit, sprinting down the hallway and pulling the first fire alarm he saw.
Anyways, the puck slides almost all the way across the ice before two players converge on it.
Clark vs. Lidstrom
Yes, that's a young Nik Lidstrom trying to stop Wendel Clark along the boards. Clark winds up with the puck. Lidstrom winds up with a nicely framed diploma, because he gets taken to school.
Here's an approximate transcript of Nik Lidstrom's thought process on this play:
"Here comes the puck, I should probably go and... oh god almighty, here comes Wendel. OK, stay calm. Hook him. Hook him again. Don't make eye contact. Hook him a third time. He's not stopping. Dear god why isn't anybody helping me? Now he just slammed on the brakes and left me standing here by myself. Good, I'm going to just aimlessly skate backwards and let somebody else deal with this. Hey, did somebody just pull a fire alarm?"After Clark is done shrugging off a terrified Lidstrom he spins back and executes a backhanded saucer pass to a streaking Foligno, who Clark was no doubt able to spot because of...
Three things you need to know about Mike Foligno's helmet.
- He made it himself out of an old salad bowl.
- It had a white stripe around it for absolutely no reason.
- For his entire Leafs career, it was always a slightly different shade of blue than everyone else's
Not much to say about this one, except to point out that Cheveldae executes one of the great overtime "losing goaltender sprint off the ice" moves of all-time. I love those.
There are only two types of athletes who are allowed to react to crushing defeat by storming away as quickly as they can: sobbing five-year-olds whose parents signed them up for sports against their will, and NHL goaltenders. And when they build a hall of fame for losing goalie sprints, the first inductee will be Ed Belfour.
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right. Moving on...
The Foligno Leap
Every Leaf fan knows the Foligno Leap, and at least 25% have suffered a serious ACL injury trying to replicate it.
But here's a question: why did Mike Foligno have his own patented goal celebration? Has any other player in NHL history had a specific goal celebration that was unique ot them? I don't mean one-time deals like Ovechkin's hot stick or Selanne's air rifle, I mean specific celebrations that they did every single time they scored. I can't think of any.
Doesn't that seem odd to you? Journeyman grinder Mike Foligno somehow became the only player to get his own patented celebration. This would be like if the only NFL wide receiver to ever do an endzone celebration was Waybe Chrebet. And yet everyone in the hockey world was fine with this.
So Foligno does his leap, the Leafs pile onto the ice, and we get a rare sighting of...
Is it me, or is Puppa a little bit too involved in the post-goal celebration? He's only been on the team for a few weeks, but he's right in there, aggressively looking for somebody to hug but not finding any takers.
True story: I was once at a wedding reception with Darren Puppa. A friend and I decided to play a game called "how many reception pictures can you take that have Darren Puppa somewhere in the background?" After a few drinks, we were basically posing for pictures in his lap.
He probably hates me.
Alright then, moving on...
Todd Gill's celebration
This was an important goal scored by the Leafs during the 1990s, so you're no doubt assuming that Todd Gill was on the ice. And he was, as you can see on the right-side of the screen during the replay at the 0:50 mark.
Watch his reaction. When the goal goes in, Gill raises his arms in the air and appears to do a 360-degree twirl. He doesn't head for Foligno, or towards another teammate. He just stays where he is and spins around by himself.
It's a bizarre was to react to a goal, but it felt vaguely familiar to me. And then it hit me: arms raised... random spinning... no interaction with teammates...
Todd Gill is doing the goal celebration from NHL '93!
The only thing missing is an occasional fist pump, an annoying siren, and my college roommate desperately trying to check him headfirst into the boards from behind and then making me watch the replay of that seven hundred times.
Pat Burns' reaction
This is the single greatest "holy crap, I can not believe we actually won" reaction of all time. Burns doesn't even try to contain it. He can not believe the Maple Leafs actually won this game.
He's still smiling a minute later as the players are coming off the ice. He's in such a good mood that we get to see a series of awkward high five attempts, even though Burns is holding either a pen or a Virginia Slim cigarette. I think you can tell which players on the team were cool by how they react to the high-five. Doug Gilmour handles it smoothly, while Mike Krushelnyski has no idea what to do.
Also, Burns is wearing suspenders. I don't know why this makes it so much better, but it does.
The old man strut
At the very end of the clip, you can see Foligno leave the ice and walk into the dressing room. Except he doesn't walk. He lets out some sort of warrior scream, then proceeds to strut into the dressing room like he's Ric Flair fighting a stomach flu.
As an added bonus, Kent Manderville tries to leap into Foligno's arms but mistimes it and winds up awkwardly landing by himself.
Homework assignment: at some point this week, you must enter a room strutting like Mike Foligno. And that includes the pre-strut scream. I'd suggest a crowded elevator, a church service, or a conference room at work during a meeting you were not invited to. Report back here when done.
Update: Commenter kidkawartha adds a tenth moment: at 0:42, does Foligno seem to be... um... "getting to know" Bob Rouse?