What a Game! Tough Loss for the Leafs in the Capital

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a bit quiet over here for the past few days. Had some personal stuff come up that had to be taken care of. We’re back in action, now.

In what was probably the Leafs’ best game of the past couple weeks, they still managed to come up short, but I don’t think there’s many teams in the league that stand much of a chance against a shootout lineup that consists of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin.  A couple thoughts on last night’s loss:

  • If there was any question who the Leafs’ top defenseman is right now, Phaneuf’s injury and last night’s game answered them all. Luke Schenn is finally looking like he’s the top-caliber defenseman we’ve been praying he was for the last few seasons. Schenn played great last night, despite being matched up with Ovie all night, doing so well that Ovechkin was actually held off the ice at the start of OT in an effort to get him away from Schenn. His ice time is only going to continue to climb in Phaneuf’s absence, and he won’t get any bigger of an opportunity than the next six weeks to prove his worth.
  • Jonas Gustavsson might have made the save of the year, but it wasn’t just this ridiculous stick save on Backstrom that caught my attention. Under heavy fire from one of the most offensively talented groups in the league, the Monster stood tall again and again, and was the biggest reason the Buds grabbed a much-needed point.
  • The Leafs finally showed signs of life in their offense, with the reunion of Kris Versteeg, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak sparking a 3rd period comeback that put the Leafs in the lead. Kessel had more than a few chances late in the game as well, but was unable to solve Neuvirth.
  • With Phaneuf out, it can’t just be Schenn who steps up. Last night, Mike Komisarek (26:02) and Francois Beauchemin (28:14) led all skaters in ice time, while Kaberle had two assists. Going to need to get continued production from all these guys, as well as Brett Lebda, who saw his ice time jump to 18 minutes.
  • The only thing I can’t understand is why John Fucking Mitchell was on the ice in a penalty-killing situation with the game on the line in the 3rd period. I understand he actually played a decent game for once in his career, but he cost his team the game with a clearing attempt that looked more like a pass to the Caps’ point man. Still, I don’t even blame him – he just shouldn’t have been on the ice.

Overall, it hurts to lose, but losing in a shootout to the Caps after one hell of a game is a far better result than most people would have predicted. Toronto will get the next two nights off before playing the Buffalo Sabres for the first time this season at home on Saturday.

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Tags: Alex Ovechkin Alexander Semin Brett Lebda Dion Phaneuf Francois Beauchemin John Mitchell Jonas Gustavsson Kris Versteeg Luke Schenn Michal Neuvirth Mike Komisarek Nicklas Backstrom Phil Kessel Tomas Kaberle Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Bozak Washington Capitals

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