Last year's iteration of the Toronto Maple Leafs never had the chance to play the Minnesota Wild, but the plot to last night's story followed last year's overarching narrative to a "T". The Wild came into last night's game as one of the league's best possession teams, and made the Leafs look like... last year's Leafs.
In his post-game press conference, Randy Carlyle couldn't be anything but grudgingly happy. After all, his team is 6-1-0, which is the hottest start for a Leafs team since sometime in the 90's, but even those who spurn the use of advanced stats will tell you that giving up 37 shots and only getting 14 of your own is not a reliable way to win hockey games. In short, Carlyle would like to see his team play better than they did last night, and he's in good company, there.
It's true that the team is missing a number of its better players, with James van Riemsdyk out with an "upper body injury", Nikolai Kulemin out with a fractured ankle, and of course David Clarkson still serving his suspension, but there is really no excuse for turning in such a performance, especially when the Wild played the night before, as well.
The good news is that James Reimer once again looked like James Reimer, stopping 36 of 37 shots to bring his 3-game-season save percentage up to a more respectable .916. With this performance, it's probably safe to assume Reimer has booked himself a spot starting the next game.
The second piece of good news from last night's game is that the Wild decided to start their young goaltending prospect Darcy Kuempfer. He looks like a promising young player, but was utterly victimized by the Leafs last night, allowing 3 goals on 7 shots. You'd be hard-pressed to blame him for the first goal he allowed, but he looked shaky on the following two, and there's really no reason to leave your young players out to dry on nights when bounces aren't going their way. Josh Harding came in relief of young Kuempfer and stopped all the shots he faced, with the Leafs notching their fourth goal on an empty net. As an aside, it was a classy move by Kessel not to touch the puck that Mason Raymond had already sent towards the net.
You really can't complain about the Leafs forwards' production thus far in the season. Sure, maybe it's unsustainable, but that's a small sample size for you. Players get hot and cold all the time, and we should just be happy with every player on the Leafs' top two lines, plus Raymond and Bolland.
Here are the box score stats from the NHL.
Here are the fancy stats from Extra Skater. Weird that there wasn't a single Corsi event in this game, but there you have it.