The 12th-in-the-East Leafs went to Tampa tonight to play against the 11th-ranked Tampa Bay Lightning. And in stark contrast to their rolling 1-8-1, they looked...good. It's worth noting - though many have already pointed out - that each win isn't exactly helpful to the Leafs at this point. While #TMLTank is going on, and we await the inevitable Joey Crabb position-losing hat trick against Montreal, saying the words "Leafs win" to a group of fans may result in this. But at least we still have Leafs games to watch, right?
J-M Liles scored just 1:09 into the first, bringing around a nice break from the traditional early goal that ends up on the scoreboard. Liles is playing hard for a contract, given his questionable performance following his mid-season concussion-like injury and - what's that? We've already extended him? Oh. Well, with any luck, it's more of this
Joey Crabb crashed the net, gets a nice feed from Lombardi, and picks the corner.
Jake Gardiner passes off the boards to himself, toe drags around what is allegedly an NHL caliber defensive play, and puts a beauty between the legs of Dustin Tokarski. Watch it:
Phaneuf crunched St. Louis against the boards and "fought" with Stamkos, earning a penalty, but St. Louis got his revenge by breaking Reimer's shutout bid with a power play goal in the last 25 seconds of play. Assist went to Brett Clark, and the second assist goes to Mike Komisarek for his failure to clear the zone. You can talk about how Carlyle's system benefits defensive defensemen, but Mike Komisarek is neither.
Birthday Boy James Reimer (24) looked good, earning his first win since February 15th at Edmonton. Apparently nothing generates confidence like the word "elimination." He made a hell of a save while on the PK in the third. A real jawdropper:
Guy Boucher took a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm not sure what was said, but I wish I knew. I'm guessing Boucher got the penalty for genuinely terrifying a ref right down to the soul.
I know we talk about how it's dumb to draft by position, but I'll be surprised if the difference between the Leafs getting or not getting Galchenyuk is Tampa Bay. Their defense is abysmal, and you've gotta think they look at one of the talented 3-to-5-ranked D-men before gambling on the forward. Not to mention that the Lightning are still one point up on the Leafs with a game in hand. A loss tonight would've put Carolina after the Leafs on the draft board, but I'm not exactly heartbroken over getting to watch a sporting even in which my team does well - in fact, it was a nice change of pace.