Just when I thought I had these Leafs figured out, they go and rip off two ridiculous comeback wins against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Looks like Friday’s pep talk from assistant GM Dave Nonis paid off, as the boys in Blue have showed no signs of quit in either of the last two games, something that has been a consistent issue over the last few seasons. I’ll be honest, when Ovi lit the lamp with an absolute laser late in the 2nd, my attention shifted to the Patriots-Jets game (glad my boys came through with a total ass-beating of those cocky New Yorkers on national TV), since I figured it was pretty much over at that point. Thankfully, I kept the stream running, and when Grabbo scored to cut the lead to two, my attention was instantly regained. I then spent the next hour screaming and yelling as the Leafs first mounted a comeback, and then Jonas Gustavsson gave the Capitals’ goal judge the rest of the night off with some incredible play down the stretch. Some thoughts from the win:
- Colby Armstrong looks like he’s returned at just the right time. The edge he’s brought to the lineup has certainly been a spark for his own club, as well as a thorn in the side of the opposition. While it remains to be seen whether or not Phil Kessel will pan out as a legit center, the line of Kessel, Armstrong and Kris Versteeg has looked far more effective than most other combinations so far. The combination of Kessel’s scoring ability, Armstrong’s grit and Versteeg’s playmaking is something you would draw up in NHL 11, and we’ll have to hope the formula will work out.
- How good is the Monster? Aside from the poor showing he had against Edmonton last week, which, of course was the 8th straight game he started since Giguere went down, the Monster has been the biggest reason the Leafs have been anything close to competitive over the last few weeks. He has that knack for making “the big save,” just like the ridiculous stick save he made against Mathieu Perreault last night. It may still be a bit early to crown him, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance we’re seeing the evolution of our next franchise goalie.
- Mikhail Grabovski had the biggest role in last night’s win, no question. Forget the filthy spinorama move he pulled to win the shootout; his goal early in the 3rd gave the Leafs life, and the pass he made to Clarke MacArthur to tie the game was a thing of beauty.
- Apparently the Caps fans weren’t too fond of Grabbo’s shootout winner. This from Japer’s Rink postgame wrapup: “What in the name of Nicklas Backstrom was Mikhail Grabovski doing on his shootout attempt? Some may call it flashy and fun, others may call it unnecessary hotdogging…po-tay-to, po-tah-to.” Really?? Unnecessary hotdogging? Looked like he was winning the game to me.
The Leafs got the day off today, but their week won’t get any easier, as they head to Pittsburgh Wednesday before hosting Philadelphia and Montreal this weekend.