The Toronto Maple Leafs invaded Montreal to take on the rival Canadiens on Hockey Day In Canada and did it in grand fashion, blanking the Habs 6-0. Leo Komarov scored his first career NHL goal, Dion Phaneuf recorded his first of the season, and Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel and Korbinian Holzer also scored. James Reimer posted his first shutout of the year and looked sharp throughout the game, turning away all 37 shots fired his way. Let’s delve deeper into the main story lines of the win:
Centre Of Attention
Tyler Bozak is making a serious case to be Phil Kessel‘s long-term centreman. Bozak won all seven of his face-offs in the first period and went on to post a sublime 82.6 win percentage in the dot for the entire game. One of those successful face-off wins came in the offensive zone and led directly to his goal. Bozak won the draw back to Mike Kostka who passed the puck to John-Michael Liles on the far side, who in turn shot the puck on net. James van Riemsdyk was able to deflect the puck across the crease to a wide-open Bozak, who was left with a tap-in. This goal exemplifies how important a strong face-off man like Bozak is for a team to keep possession and generate scoring chances.
Reim Time, All The Time
James Reimer deserves a ton of credit for leading this team to a 7-5-0 record after 12 games, especially considering the woeful defense corps he’s had to play behind. Heading into last night’s game, Reimer owned a .918 save percentage and 2.61 goals-against-average. After shutting out the Habs, those numbers will obviously look even better. Granted, we’re only talking nine games played so far for Reimer, but from what we’ve seen, there is good reason to believe he has fully healed from the concussion problems he was plagued with last season. It’s clear Reimer has claimed the number one goalie mantle, the only question is whether or not Ben Scrivens can be relied upon to spell him once every few days.
With the game well out of hand in the third period, things turned pretty ugly. The third period penalty summary reads like Al Pacino’s criminal record. Max Pacioretty, Brandon Prust and Rene Bourque for the Habs and Mikhail Grabovski and Colton Orr for the Leafs were all served misconducts. Although many will argue the likes of Orr, Mark Fraser and Frazer McLaren should never have been in the lineup anyway due to their lack of actual hockey skill, I was impressed with the overall team toughness that was on display for the Leafs last night. Who would have predicted a fight between Mike Kostka and Brendan Gallagher? But when Gallagher pushed Dion Phaneuf into Reimer after a whistle, Kostka took exception, and it lead to the two combatants dropping the gloves. According to hockeyfights.com, the Gallagher fight was only Kostka’s fourth in seven seasons playing professional hockey. The 5-foot-8 Gallagher isn’t the most imposing figure in the world, but I completely welcome any player sticking up for his teammate, no matter who the perpetrator is.