Move over Patrick Kane, Jiri Tlusty is ready for his closeup. The Leafs faithful finally got a look at the only teenager in the team's system last night as he made his debut against the Penguins. And what a debut! His first goal may have come on a deflection by his posterior but his second was a beauty. He flew down the wing and took a perfect Pavel Kubina pass in stride, burst past Ryan Whitney and fired a wrist shot glove-side past Marc Andre Fleury. When he tells his grandkids about his first NHL game I am guessing that the latter goal will become his first NHL goal.
Just as impressive, after the 52 shots allowed in their last meeting, was that the Leafs held the Penguins to just 25 shots. They did an excellent job of keeping the high-octance offence to the perimeter and Vesa Toskala was great when called upon. David Johnson and Ninja combined for a good discussion on the Leafs' shots against which makes for interesting reading.
A big part of that improvement in shots was that the forwards weren't losing their players with as much regularity as before and there seemed to be a method to the madness in the defensive zone. Sure, it fell apart once in a while but defensive coverage is a 5 man job and last night at least 5 men were doing it.
So the Leafs pick up a win by blowing up the other team in the third period (4-1) and look competent in doing so. They are led by the youth of the team (Antro, Steen, Tlusty) and they now have 11 points which is the same as last season and one fewer than the one before. Can the Chicken Little act take a break please? The Leafs have games to win.
The Other End of the Rink
- Snoopyjode, The Sidney Crosby Show
The third began unassumingly enough, but the Leafs must have had a good talk in the locker room during intermission because they were able to score two goals within 25 seconds of one another.