Last night, the Leafs beat the Boston Bruins. That's right, the Leafs beat the Boston Bruins. Nazem Kadri opened the scoring on a nice little pass from Clarke MacArthur. Mikhail Grabovski scored next, with a beautiful shot just over the pad of Anton Khudobin, off the bar and in. The eventual game winner came on a FRAZER MCLAZER, when Khudobin scooped the puck into his own net with his far-side pad, but not before we endured a goal by Denis Seidenberg and one by Andrew Ference with a minute and sixteen to play. It was a nail-biter, in the way Leaf fans expect to lose when they see "3-1" on the scoreboard. Your game in six:
The Leafs had 3 goals on 13 shots, and if you think we can expect that night in and night out, I think you're insane. Anton Khudobin, with 3 goals on 11 shots, had an atrocious game - that game winner could be set to Benny Hill. But it's the Bruins and we won, so I don't really care.
James Reimer stole us a game right here. 31 saves on 33 shots was great, including some frantic lost-puck scrambles. The two goals against were largely a product of collapsing forwards and traffic in front of the net. It strikes me as odd that just before Sidenberg's goal, Kessel is the one in front of the net. He doesn't do anything wrong, I just think most teams would have him up near Sidenberg, with Bozak in front of the net rather than on the half-boards. The second goal got tipped twice - not much Reimer can do there.
Kadri had a good night as well. It's hard to tell from the shift charts whether Carlyle wanted Bozak or Kadri up against Bergeron, as they both followed him on to the ice occasionally. Gardiner had a quiet game against some of the Bruins' deeper lines - the Leafs didn't really have the puck enough for him to be jumping in to the rush, but he had limited failures.
Phil Kessel displayed his multi-dimensional play, work ethic, and intensity on the image you're watching looped above. You'd basically have to have no editorial standards whatsoever to spend a couple hundred words inventing flaws in his character to impeach his game.
A selection of thoughts: Jay McClement with 15 of the teams' 21 defensive zone faceoffs. I know he has his detractors, but I think that was a great UFA pickup. Watch Lucic on Grabovski's goal. Grabovski gains the zone like Lucic isn't even there - no idea why he passes up on a big hit. Ryan Hamilton had a couple good plays: on one, he blocked a Chara slapshot and then tied him up, allowing the Leafs to get to the puck. He's pretty slow, though, so it's easy to see why he hasn't got a storied history in the NHL. Colton Orr also made a good forechecking play on the McLaren goal - that's the kind of "useful hockey player" the Leafs want him to be, but I have to think the job could be filled by someone faster. A slow forechecker, even if powerful, just isn't going to get those opportunities often.
A little commentary on Hockey Night In Canada: I've been watching some LA Kings games lately, and their broadcast booth is phenomenal. Breaking down plays - even ones that don't result in goals - to show interesting decisionmaking by the players. Instead, the leading hockey program in Canada gives us Glenn Healy saying things so dumb, that even Friedman is looking for polite ways to make sure viewers don't take his message. A leading "analyst" that doesn't "believe" in possession statistics, and doesn't do good breakdowns of the trade market or the game. Can anyone at HNIC answer: besides a constant, loud, flowing stream of words, what does he bring to that panel? Friedman's value is obvious, but does the rest of that panel bring positive-value comments or analysis on NHL events? For a program described with words like "tradition" and "national treasure," they must do a very poor job of developing and criticizing their own product.
Anyways, the Leafs play the Bruins again on Monday night, and they better shake things up if they want to pull off a road win. Liles was injured in the game, but reports indicate it's just a sprained ankle, rather than a fracture. Mike Kostka will be most likely to draw back in to the lineup. Komarov will still be out due to IR, but Lupul will play and with any luck, maybe Liles will be ready.