The Toronto Maple Leafs waltzed into Jake Gardiner's backyard and strolled out with a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. Does it sound like I'm trying to say it was easy? Well, it was a lot easier than I would have expected, especially considering the beating Montreal laid on Minnesota, but that's what happens when you have just another Allaire goalie tending the nets. James Reimer notched his third shutout on the back of 29 saves including a few that were miraculously made with his cripplingly weak glove hand. He is truly a study in courage playing hockey with such a shocking handicap. As Helper Godd Till noted "guess the book on Reimer hasn't made it to Minnesota yet." In his opus, he had to save three breakaways because the rest of the Leafs felt like he was bored back there. Two of them were shorthanded because, when you've tried everything to score on the PP, why not really think outside of the box. Luckily, they went to scrubs like John Madden.
At this tail end of the season every game's importance ratchets up so it is a bit of a disappointment for the Leafs to win a game and have them just keep pace with Buffalo and Carolina. A special thank you to Ottawa for not playing their latest goaltending mistake and to Montreal for wasting all of their goals against Minnesota.
The scoring came from the Leafs' top two lines which should, at least for one night, silenced those that are panicked about their production. Joffrey Lupul notched his tenth of the year in the first on a great wrist shot as he raced down his wrong wing, Mikhail Grabovski scored his 28th after Clarke MacArthur dropped him the puck and drove into two Wild defencemen, and Carl Gunnarsson ended the scoring with his fourth of the year on the powerplay.
In other strong performances:
Nikolai Kulemin picked up two assists and two hits.
Luke Schenn was handsome and polite and a + 2 with three hits.
Nazem Kadri won 8 of 11 face-offs.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere did not enter the third period and blow a 2-0 lead.
I watched the Minnesota telecast of the game which was interesting. They love Phil Kessel (he went to the University of Minnesota), they politely disagreed with the referees but understood that they were calling the rules as they were written, they praised Brian Burke, and they called Dion "Pha-newf" which made me giggle. I wish Hockey Night in Canada's broadcast team was that good. It was a sharp contrast to the Carolina broadcast. During the Carolina game we all had a good chuckle at the expense of North Carolina's mittenstringers because they said that Optimus Reim referred to James Reimer's optimistic and sunny disposition. Sure, if you watch his interview below you'd be liable to think that. Or, if you were a dinosaur that had never heard of Transformers. Anyway, we may have had too many "rofl stupid southern markets" guffaws:
The James Reimer slogans are beginning to pop up everywhere, proclaiming Optimus Reim. A couple of them were spotted at the Xcel Energy Center here.
Translated from Latin, the message is: Reim(er) is very good.
Update: Looks like McGran heard it from enough places...
But it's also a reference to the Transformers — the alien robot action figures — because the Leafs goalie transforms the crease.
Game In Six
Ron Wilson Post-Game Press Conference
Optimus Reim Foils The Enemy