Tonight marked the fifth installment of the Battle of Ontario. The Leafs won the first installment, then proceeded to drop the next three. The Leafs entered the game trailing Ottawa by three points in the standings while having three games in hand. The Leafs started the scoring late in the first period, and never looked back. They got trapped in their own end on several occasions, but the Senators never really had many dangerous opportunities. Those opportunities that they did have, Reimer was solid in preventing from appearing on the scoreboard. The Leafs for the second time this week looked like a playoff team, and if they continue to play this way will be one in April.
-The Defensemen were outstanding in both ends of the ice, Accounting for 3 goals and 5 points. This is what Brian Burke had in mind when he said he was building from the net out.
-James Reimer played an amazing game. A shutout is always great, a 48 save shutout is borderline amazing. This has been an incredible run he is on and it would certainly appear that a goaltending controversy is upcoming. With the Leafs misfortune in goal the past several years, this is a nice problem to have.
-The Leafs penalty killing has really changed from their biggest weakness to their biggest strength. Not to sound outrageous, but could the Leafs current penalty killing be on of the best units in the NHL. The fact that they are still 29′th in the league in killing goes to show just how poor they were earlier in the season.
-Team speed is still the Leafs game, but defensive responsibility is making this team look a lot closer to Ron Wilson’s San Jose teams, and with hard work they will continue to rise in the standings.
It was really hard to come up with much, but certain offensive combinations are reverting to poor habits in the defensive zone. The fourth line in particular was not stellar in the back end, and almost all quality chances the Senators had were a result of turnovers from this line.
Does Nik Kulemin still play in Toronto? The guy has to start doing something, he was invisible tonight, when almost nobody was. He ties up a large portion of salary cap and my guess is he will have a new address if his game does not improve.
Story of the night beyond the game was the Do It For Darren initiative set up by the Richardson family after the tragic loss of their daughter. This type of thing takes a tremendous amount of courage, but from all interviews Richardson and his wife have given, they appear convinced that reaching out to young persons regarding depression is the best way to honor their young daughters legacy. They could not be more correct. Nobody will ever know how many lives are saved from these initiatives, but just reaching one person is a victory. For more information check out www.doitfordaron.com
I would also like to thank all those that took the time to check out www.miracle4maddie.bbnow.org earlier today. This has been a strange couple of days in learning of this, but I am sure that my coworker and friend will appreciate the outpouring of support.