It might actually be a Game in 9. Or a Game in 27. Who knows? I’m writing this sentence at 7:08pm.
1. The game just started, and I’m already sick of the TSN commentary dedicated to “PHIL HASN’T SCORED YET AND IT’S GAME #3!” He’s been making plays amazingly well since Saturday and even backchecking. Like, a lot of backchecking, for him. I really hope this first point turns redundant at some point in the next couple hours.
2. I like Tyler Bozak. I really do. But a first line/Kessel-capable centre, he remains not. He’s tenacious and full of energy, but he simply doesn’t read plays as quickly as Kessel, and it costs the Leafs chances they should otherwise have a a result of Kessel’s (did I mention wickedly underrated?) playmaking ability. Update: He would score a PP goal in the dying minutes, wouldn’t he? Fine. You can stay, Tyler.
3. Engelland and Orr go at it early with a terrific scrap that express everything hypocritical about fighting in the NHL. Starts with a confrontation at the blue line (where it looks like Engelland tried to pull Orr’s helmet off?), transitioned into a standup fight with lots of impressively heavy blows landed (props to those guys, seriously), went on needlessly long to the point where they were both exhausted and praying for the refs to step in, then ended with smiles, hugs, and handshakes for all. Probably a “good job,” “you too,” in there as well. What a sport.
4. “Sluggish” was indeed a good way to describe JVR when the game started. There was no jump to his game. Everything he did was tentative…or missed the net. Up until what became point #8 in this summary, he was kinda sorta Lee Stempniak.
5. A) Does Mike Komiarek really think that (first period) cross check isn’t a penalty? B) Why on earth did Komisarek start tonight over Franson? C) Franson has to be wondering what the hell he’s done so wrong in Toronto. I bet they score here….UPDATE: Yep.
6. Malkin’s first goal on Reimer was pretty soft. Great quick shot, but from a sharp angle. It’s one goal. The sky is not falling. But it’s the kind of goal Reimer’s got to stop allowing if he’s going to make the jump everyone wants him to make and really silence his critics.
7. The Leafs’ first goal came off a curious MacArthur-Kulemin-Kadri combination (amidst a shift change) that looked dirty in execution but was actually a pretty slick rush. Kadri was likely trying to shoot, but he shouldn’t confirm that, because it was a pretty terrific pass.
8. Wow. The second goal is way more impressive. Borrowing a word from Ferraro, a glorious break wide on the rush by Kulemin sets up JVR for a tap-in, rendering point #4 in this moot. A JVR-Grabo-Kulemin line has made a whole lot of sense on paper since the winger was acquired from Philadelphia.
9. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5 on 3 power play is a consistently sad, immobile, indecisive, non-intimidating display of erectile dysfunction.
10. Oh boy. JVR really let that shot go for his second goal. Excellent timing for a wakeup, since our LW1 may have just left the ice with a broken hand.
11. Grabovski, Wednesday: “I need more fire. Fire burn the ice.” I think I know what he means, but regardless, what a shot for the Leafs’ fourth goal. Is it too early to establish that any players featured in Carlyle’s game day comments will automatically be awesome that night? (Ergo: MAYBE YOU SHOULD START REVEALING YOUR STARTING GOALIE, RANDY!)
12. Here’s the James Reimer problem. Everyone will focus on the softness of the two goals he allowed tomorrow. And sort of maybe kind of rightfully so. Even the Crosby breakaway (“COME ON, IT’S A CROSBY BREAKAWAY!”) was a pretty weak shot. But the real story should be how solid – if not very exceptional – Reimer was on everything else. Not bad for his first start in how many hundreds of days, against one of the league’s best teams.
13. Mike Kostka still doesn’t look out of place in the NHL. He brings the sort of sound, well-rounded play that we usually look to Gunnarson for.
14. Solid all-around effort by the Leafs. A very defensively capable showing against one of the NHL’s best offensive teams, which is something we should all be considerably encouraged about. No one predicted a 5-2 Leaf victory today.
The Toronto Maple Leafs under Randy Carlyle are, night and day, a different team than the Toronto Maple Leafs under Ron Wilson. Tenacious on the puck, defensively sound, and just visibly organized. It’s still early in the season. It would be foolish to draw sweeping conclusions from the first week.
Considering how crappy I felt as a Leafs fan less than two weeks ago, however…a night like Wednesday’s Pittsburgh opener is a positive worth remembering.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Boxscore
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Well, we were closer than we’ve been in the past 4 games against the Bruins tonight, but as my Dad always tells me: “Close is only good in horseshoes and grenades.” Unfortunately, neither of those are used in hockey. I must admit that it was a much better effort put forward by this Leafs squad looking noticeably more Carlylilian like in their play today. After their nearly 3 and a half hours of practice with the new bench boss it was easy to notice the emergence of his system, especially in the physical aspect of the game. Now as physical as the Leafs were the Bruins brought it threefold. We were getting crunched all over the ice, and other than a couple noticeable body ringers by Phaneuf and Komisarek are physical play was no where near that of the reigning cup champs.
So much for truculence, turbulence, and neondrathalism (or whatever Burke keeps yapping about before he hangs up on whoever he’s talking to.
We all know how the game ended, with the our buds unable to find one last tally to push it to overtime leaving us all heartbroken. But there was one part of the game that i really didn’t care for. Colby Armstrong clearly has not been himself coming off the concussion he suffered roughly a month ago. Its been clear in his play that he just isn’t as physical as he was before it happened, and was struggling to regain his form. Today, however he came out looking a little bit more like his old self, laying a few checks and generating some offensive chances. Then he laid a big hit on Seidenberg and accepted the challenge to fight. This is something that he never should have done. Yes, theirs the “code”, but if you’ve just come off a concussion which has kept you out for an extending period of time and you clearly haven’t felt back to your former level of play, a fight is not going to solve anything. And as we all witnessed Army got walloped taking a couple huge blows to the head. My personal opinion is he’s going to have a recurrence of symptoms after this one, and I’m going to go ahead and say he’s done for the year after this.
So we didn’t get the W, we lost Army, hopefully not Loops for too long, and we go at it again tomorrow.
As our friend Super Mario would say, “Yahoo!”.
I happened find that exact word leave my mouth in that loveable tone after the Leafs finally got back in the win column, and who better to get back on track against than Montreal. I was out for dinner for the first period and a half, but was able to conspicuously stream the radio feed with one speaker in my ear as to not miss anything. Finally, we were able to put forth a complete 60 minute effort and grab that first win for Mr. Randy “Kiddie” Carlyle. With the blue and white down by 1 in the first, Browny stepped up big in the first with a seismic tilt against Staubitz, which seemed to spark the team. The coaching change was really noticeable in the ice times of certain players, and I especially liked the move of the big bodied Steckel onto the third line. Matt Frattin had a great game and seemed energized by the vote of confidence given to him by the new bench boss. The MacArthur – Grabo – Frattin line was clearly favoured by Carlyle and accounted for all of the leafs goals with Grabo netting a couple timely beauties late in the third. The offence wasn’t the only part of the Leaf’s game that returned to form as The Monster came up with some timely saves to keep the Leafs in the game and eventually hold on to the win. The biggest difference I saw in our game was the desperation the Leafs played with in the last couple minutes and was epitomized my Lupul’s diving blocked shot.
For now at least, it seems that the Leafs have found their game, and hopefully they can keep it going against Boston on Tuesday. Which by the way would be a really great time for Kessel to get over his inconvenient, but totally reasonable fear of Zdeno Chara, and bury a few in the back of the net against his old team. As of today however, Leaf nation let out a collective sigh of relief last night (that apparently raised CO2 levels in Toronto by 15%), and praise Randy Carlyle for getting this team off their losing streak.
Now we can finally answer the question posed by notorious Leaf fan Mike Myers many years ago…
Do I make you Randy? <– Click it