Despite falling behind 2-0 early in the game the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied back to clip the Atlanta Thrashers 5-4. Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn't end up on the right side of .900 but he made some big saves (yes, I know, all saves are big) in the first period that kept the game close as the Leafs' racked up six minor penalties in the first period. The theme of the night was experimentation as Ron Wilson finally hit the blender on all four forward lines. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin were their usual selves with a goal and an assist each. With about 11 minutes on their wing Phil Kessel notched a +2. Progress!
In honour of Phil Kessel's eleventh straight game without a goal there are eleven game notes after the jump.
Dion Phaneuf notched his first goal at the Air Canada Centre as a Maple Leaf. It came a scant 372 days after being acquired by Brian Burke. As puckurgently noted, if this is the beginning of Phaneuf's 0.9% shooting percentage regressing to the mean the end of the season could get interesting.
- Usually the Maple Leafs are killed by hot goalies but they seem to have figured out Ondrej Pavelec. Kent Wilson got pilloried for suggesting that he wouldn't be able to keep up his pace over an entire season but he sure seems to be slowing down. His save percentage has gone from .951 to .922 to .908 over the past three months and February stands at .882.
Luke Schenn played almost 28 minutes including over 6 minutes on the penalty kill. He was + 2, blocked 2 shots, had 3 hits and continues to look comfortable with the puck. Looks like his pairing with Tomas Kaberle is paying off.
- Speaking of Tomas Kaberle, he had two assists including a beautiful dish to Clarke MacArthur. He is now seventh among defenceman in assists and twelfth in points.
Mike Komisarek played a massive eight minutes tonight and managed to pick up two penalties. I'm going to go ahead and blame his terrible contract for keeping Tomas Kaberle from re-signing in Toronto.
Johnny Oduya and Dustin Byfuglien were given the assignment of matching up with the Kulemin-Grabovski-Kessel line. Their failure included an amazing pass by Byfuglien to Kulemin on the Leafs' 4th goal.
- I want to know what Colby Armstrong says to the Atlanta Thrashers. They hate him and are willing to take penalties and make dirty plays to get at him.
- The Sportsnet panel (I know, I know) talked about how Nik Antropov could be on the move as Rick Dudley, sounding a lot like Burke, looks to keep Atlanta's year from going down the drain. They are now in ninth with more games played than every team around them. They are 2-5-3 in their last 10. That ship is sinking fast.
- Speaking of Antropov, he potted his 10th on the year and is 3-5-8 in his last ten games. One destination suggested by the Sportsnet panel was Washington. I think that would work pretty well.
- The Leafs are 3-1-0 since the all-star break. They went 5-1-0 after the New Year. They started the season 4-0-0. That's 12-2-0 after long breaks. The Leafs should petition for more of them next year.
- This game was only two WaffleMen: