Not pictured: Kessel saying "YAYYYYYYY!"
If the New York Islanders didn't have bad luck they wouldn't have any luck at all. The debacle in net can barely be described but here goes: Rick DiPietro had an injury plagued season (no shock), Dwayne Roloson was traded hoping he might be healthy, Evgeni Nabokov was plucked off waivers as insurance but he threw his toys out of the pram, DiPietro decided to fight and promptly fell apart, and then, in tonight's warm-up, Kevin Poulin twisted his knee in a rut in the ice. The result? A rookie getting his first start after struggling in the AHL and a journeyman Joel Martin flying down the highway to dress as the backup.
In a shocking turnaround, the Leafs came out hard and put the Islanders behind the eight-ball. Some bad penalties and indifferent play let the Islanders back into the game. Then something strange happened in the third: the Leafs put the boot down and potted three goals to snare the 5-3 win.
In honour of Eyebleaf's favourite player being so damn hot lately here are eleven bullet points on the game:
- Phil Kessel is not as soft as he is painted but he is certainly not as strong as he could be. On Nikolai Kulemin's 20th goal of the season he outmuscled Travis Hamonic and made an unselfish pass. He could have tried for the goal to break his streak but he made the right play.
- Let's not forget that tonight's win brought the Leafs' record to 10-0-0 when Kessel is a plus player.
- Another player that was in the doldrums, Colby Armstrong, has gone 1-6-7 and +5 in five games including a goal and two assists tonight. Before that he went pointless in six games and was -5. Prior to that he went 3-4-7 and + 1 in five games. Huh.
- You can't forget the impact that Tomas Kaberle's 1-5-6 in the past five games has had on the team's fortunes. It's probably not a coincidence that the only game in which he was held pointless was a loss.
- Out of the playoffs is where the Leafs' remain. The odds of making them are probably even almost 1%. The bigger news is that the Leafs are 1 point out of 25th and closing the gap on the group in 20-24.
- For those thinking that the Leafs might have a chance at the playoffs please look at their schedule in March: PIT, @PHI, CHI, @NYI, PHI, BUF, TBL, @CAR, @FLA, BOS, @MIN, @COL, @DET, BUF, @BOS. Geez that's tough.
- Frankly, MF37 and Bower Power scared me on Twitter as they noted that the trade deadline comes the day before the month of hell. I know Burke's been talking about not making any short-term buys unless they also have long-term upside but I'm worried.
- Schenn and Kaberle were assigned duty against the Islanders top pairing of Matt Moulson and John Tavares.
- ! James Reimer's glove save in the third was an absolute thing of beauty. He was on his knees, got up and stretched across the net to snare a slapper.
- ! John Tavares is in the midst of a 10 game goal drought. He's also had 8 and 9 game goal droughts this year. Weird.
- 1 More thing: The WaffleMan score for tonight is 3 out of 5 only because I can't do halves.
The "Hard Hitting Hamonic" sign is particularly funny in retrospect