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CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Rallying from a 3-0 deficit, recovering from a Don Cherry blast, and reeling from a lack of geography knowledge


May 15, 2014

TORONTO — It’s not impossible to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a seven-game series. It happened last month in the National Hockey League when Los Angeles spotted San Jose the first three games and then swept the next four. It happened last year in the American Hockey League when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton swept Providence after dropping the first three in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It’s the first one to four, not the first one to three.

“Whether you’re up 3-nothing or not, you always have to win the next game,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson after today’s brief practice at Ricoh Coliseum. “That’s our message to them. Just win the game at hand and let the cards fall as they may.”

The Wolves thought they earned that first win Wednesday night in Game 3, but Toronto shrugged off Chicago’s dominance in the second and third periods to win the game 3:28 into overtime.

Unlike Games 1 and 2, when Toronto bolted to 3-0 leads that held up, the Wolves stood up in Game 3 when the Marlies scored an early goal.

But uncommon mistakes — things you don’t notice unless you’re a coach and things that didn’t happen during the team’s terrific second half of the regular season — continue to plague the Wolves. Adam Cracknell slapped home a rebound from the slot to pull the Wolves even 2-2 at 18:28 of the first period. Just 11 seconds later, Toronto scored to regain the lead and blunt the Wolves’ momentum.

“The play right at the faceoff circle, we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do,” Anderson said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, it doesn’t come to our end. Little things like that are really hurting us.”

If the Wolves clean up the little things, Anderson thinks one of his strategies to win Game 4 might pay off. Keep in mind, Toronto has scored eight first-period goals in the first three games of the series.

“I think if we keep them to no goals first period, they might die of shock and we’ll win the game,” he said.

JOHNNY AND DON CHERRY

If you watched Game 3 on Wednesday night, then you probably noticed head coach John Anderson not wearing his standard shirt and tie. He wore a black polo under his jacket because the airline lost his luggage.

Turns out fabled hockey commentator Don Cherry saw a television clip of Anderson behind the bench, but didn’t hear the reason for his choice of clothing.

“Somebody told me this morning that he was giving it to me on the radio for not having a tie on,” said Anderson, who’s friendly with Cherry. “Never thought I’d see the day where Don Cherry would be giving me grief for my clothes. I’m going to get him a mirror.”

In typical Anderson fashion, he turned the story around on himself.

“What happened was last night, when we get back to the hotel, I was mad that we lost,” Anderson said. “So I said to the bellman, ‘Has anything come from American Airlines?’ And he says no. And I am so mad. I’m going to phone them. So I walk into my room and I tripped over my bag because it was dark. The clothes got here at 6 o’clock last night.”

WHY YOU NEED TO LEARN THE CAPITAL OF KAZAKHSTAN

mrgeographyMr. GeographyWhen it’s time for the team bus to leave the hotel to go to the rink, it leaves. Well, it would probably wait for a player or a coach, but it wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) wait for a humble blog writer.

On Thursday, a humble blog writer needed a cab to catch up with the team at Ricoh Coliseum. Upon hearing the requested destination, the cab driver started a brief and cheerful discussion of hockey…though he seemed to be a passing fan at best. He knew the Montreal Canadiens were still in the NHL playoffs, but wondered if they were playing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the next round.

What Mohammad Saaed Collins lacked in hockey expertise, he more than made up for it with his geography knowledge. In fact, he’s known throughout Toronto and beyond as “Mr. Geography.” He has a business card and several laminated newspaper and magazine clippings to prove it.

Collins gives his passengers a chance to win a free ride. He offered a quiz: What is the capital of Kazakhstan? Humble blog writer flunked the quiz, so Collins offered another chance: Name all of the United States that touch Canada. Humble blog writer flunked that quiz as well, but enjoyed the conversation so much he brought up the topic with trainer Kevin Kacer and equipment manager Craig Kogut while the team was on the ice.

“Hey, this guy gave us a ride last time we were here for the playoffs!” Kacer said. “He asked us for the capital of Kazakhstan too!”

Thanks a lot, boys, for not preparing anyone for this possibility. For anyone else who might be traveling in Toronto, commit this answer to memory: The capital of Kazakhstan is Astana.

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