I’m not mad. After a brutal first period (yes, brutal, even though they killed off an early 5-on-3), the Leafs showed alot of grit and mental fortitude by battling back in the final two frames. Had Mikhail Grabovski not been robbed by Corey Crawford on that penalty shot early in the 3rd, Leaf Nation could very well be waking up in euphoria this morning after knocking off both the Eastern and Western Conference champs from last season.
As Ron Wilson said in the post-game presser, “It’d be awful idiotic to say that we were gonna win every game the rest of the way, so I have no problem with the game tonight. We’ll move on to the next one, learn our lessons, and get better.” The Leafs got burned by a full team effort from the Hawks, who flexed their muscles early and got points from 10 different players on the night. Crawford was fantastic, especially in the 3rd, finishing with 30 saves.
The Leafs didn’t lose any ground on the Rangers or Hurricanes with the loss, although the Sabres’ win over Philly left the Buds 3 points back of Buffalo. Still, winning 2 of 3 in a week that featured the last two Stanley Cup champs and the best team in the East this year counts as a pretty damn good week in my book. The key will be bouncing back from their first regulation loss in weeks, something they’ll get a chance to do against the New York Islanders.
Given the youthful nature of this club, especially netminder James Reimer (who had a bit of a shaky game before being replaced in the 3rd), I don’t think that will be an issue. Reimer has shown a remarkably short term memory over the past few months, and demonstrated it again in his post-game comments. “They’re a good team and they showed it tonight. I thought we got on them in the first minute, but just too many goals-against in the first period, and that’s on me. It’s a team game but I have to mix in a save somewhere in there.”
Links after the jump.
Game in 10 for Game 66. [LeafsHQ]
An optimistic recap on last night’s action. [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]
The Rangers and Sabres are both in action today. New York is hosting Philly on NBC’s Sunday afternoon matchup, while Buffalo continues their road trip against Minnesota.