This wasn't a fun game to watch as a Leafs fan because Toronto generated very few chances. They opened the game well with a flurry of shots in the first five minutes of the first period but as the game went on the Bruins executed their defensive plan very well and Tim Thomas closed the door on everything that he saw. Thomas improves his GAA to 0.60 and his save percentage to 0.981. He hasn't given up two goals in the same game yet.
I think the Leafs played an excellent defensive game as well. Jonas Gustavsson stopped 29/31 and sits at a 2.36GAA and 0.921SV%. Neither goal tonight is on him; the first came on a Patrice Bergeron one timer on the power play, the second as Tyler Seguin was completely uncovered in the low slot. The Bruins got Gustavsson moving left to right in both instances and put the puck on the net.
You'll read tomorrow morning that Phil Kessel was ineffective but he carried play and led all skaters with six shots on net. He tried to pass too much in the third period but his options looked good on the plays and it's probably not a bad decision to try and dish the puck when playing Boston based on how tightly they key in on him.
In the first period the refs lost sight of the puck as Phil Kessel was streaking through the zone ready to put it in the empty net. Sometimes the calls go for you like in Florida, sometimes they don't. It's obvious that had the refs not blown the whistle Kessel would have skated through the three point zone and scored in the bonus ring which would have immediately won the game for Toronto. Oh well.
In the second period Dion Phaneuf squared off with Nathan Horton. Horton got on top of Phaneuf and threw him to the ice and Phaneuf did something pretty clever. He threw a punch as he was falling to get Horton to keep throwing. For his trouble Horton got an extra 10 minute misconduct and Phaneuf bought the Leafs some time away from Boston's top scoring line.
Boston finished 1st two years ago and spent most of last year without their entire top line. The Bruins are a very solid team whose defense exposed the Leafs lack of scoring depth. Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin ended the game without a single shot on net.
This seems obvious but if Bozak, Grabovski and Kulemin can't get it going soon the Leafs aren't going to keep winning. Kessel won't score 7 goals every eight games and we should be ready for MacArthur to check out for 30 games or so soon. The Leafs need their goalscorers outside of Kessel to get going and soon.
Am I happy the Leafs lost? No. Am I excited to read about how we lost the Kessel trade because with a wide open net Seguin took a shot that went off Jonas Gustavsson and in? No. But the Leafs played a low scoring tight game against a very good team tonight. They're moving in the right direction, and 5-3-1 is still a 100 pt pace. The Leafs need to keep winning against fellow bubble teams so that against the real teams in the East; Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philly, Buffalo they can afford to lose.