Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 in front of a pro-Toronto crowd (read: in Ottawa) is a hell of a way to kick of the 2011 portion of a terrible 2010-2011 season. Thanks to the strong game from the Phil Kessel - Joey Crabb - Tyler Bozak line and some help from Brian Elliott the Leafs had the game in hand after one period. Three early goals saw Elliott run out of the game and the Battle of Ontario debut of Mike "Not Martin" Brodeur.
For one night at least, it was nice to see a Maple Leafs prospect, James Reimer, step onto the ice and perform very well. Sure, the Ottawa Senators are an absolutely terrible team but 32 saves on 33 shots is good in anyone's books. He might have racked up a shutout if it wasn't for two penalties by Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin that led to Ottawa's goal on a 5-on-3. The game had a playoff flashback to it as AHLers Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb racked up a goal and two assists respectively in a flashback to classic Lonny Bohonos performances.
One similarity both teams have, aside from being terrible, is that they both thought they had their second line centre position filled with young players. Peter Regin and Tyler Bozak both gave tantalizing glimpses last season that have so far petered out into...not much.
|2010 - Tyler Bozak||37||7||8||15||-8||6||4||0||1||0||63||11.1|
|2010 - Peter Regin||38||1||10||11||-4||10||0||0||0||0||61||1.7|
Seeing Bozak pot two was nice. Whether there's any long-term improvement in his results will depend more on whether Kessel hits another hot streak. His shooting percentage is not as high as last year's almost 16% but it's not likely to improve. As we saw in Draglikepull's fanpost, Bozak's likely coming well short of the cap hit that he's always presented with and he knows he's playing for a contract. First rounders can always find a home in the NHL regardless of their performance (Hugh Jessiman excepted) but undrafted NCAA kids have to show a bit more to stay in the league.