Well, can’t exactly say the Leafs didn’t deserve to lose this one, as they came out of the gate sluggish as all hell, and needed some quality netminding from James Reimer to keep them within striking distance. Give them credit for battling back, though, and they had more than a few chances to take the game. Play poorly enough, and the bad bounces won’t just make things interesting, they’ll cost you the game, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.
- Phil Kessel didn’t score his prettiest goal of the year, but he is back tied with Jonathan Toews for the league lead in goals with 17. And, it was another powerplay goal for the league’s 2nd best powerplay. Couple of facts that should keep the stat-hounds of Leaf Nation happy (myself included) – but hey, it’s a been awhile since we really had anything to brag about.
- Reimer doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of rust after a lengthy layoff. While he lost in Boston and tonight, he put out solid efforts in both games, and made a number of huge saves tonight, none better than the blocker saves he made on David Clarkson in the first and the third.
- Matt Frattin had perhaps his best game of the season, and scored his 3rd goal of the year to tie the game. For a rookie, he’s one of the strongest kids on his skates I’ve seen in a long time, and there’s been more than a couple defensemen that have bitten off more than they can chew when they’ve taken runs at him.
- Great physical play from the Leafs’ blueline, especially Luke Schenn, who continues to impress me with every passing game. There was a shift in the first right after the Devils’ 2nd goal, where he took it upon himself to manhandle an unlucky Devils forward, and basically ragdolled him from one side of the ice to to the other. He’s been better with the puck, and continues to look more and moer comfortable with Jake Gardiner, whose ice time is dramatically increasing as a result.
- Would it be lazy to just write “The Whole First Period”?
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Leafs looked slow and off-pace to start the game, and it showed especially in their puck movement. A ton of bad giveaways, especially up the middle. I know the Leafs have been successful so far with their speed, but when teams decide to clog up the neutral zone on them like the Bruins put on a clinical display of last week, they need to have a Plan B.
- Carl Gunnarsson had a rough night. Totally blew the coverage on the Devils’ second goal of the night, over-committed way too early without any backup coverage in the slot, and whiffed on a beautiful one-timer at the point in overtime that ended up leading to the game-winning goal for David Clarkson.
- As strong as Frattin has looked (regardless of the relatively slow production), Joe Colborne doesn’t quite look right at home just yet. He does a lot of things right, and most certainly has a bright future ahead of him, but the difference is that he looks lanky and gangly on the ice, like a big kid who hasn’t fully grown into his body just yet, which of course, is exactly what he is. He doesn’t quite yet have the strength to fully assert his will against full-grown men.
- Would have been nice to pull 2 points out of this one, but we’ll take one and move on.