It seems like nothing ever comes easy for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and such was the case tonight when the Ottawa Senators came to town. In the third installment of the Battle of Ontario, the Maple Leafs nearly blew a three-goal second period lead, but survived a chaotic final 30 seconds to beat their provincial rivals by a score of 5-4. Here are three thoughts from the game:
Dziurzynski Bites The Ice
It only took 26 seconds into the first period for Frazer McLaren to find a willing combatant, as David Dziurzynski dropped the gloves with the Leafs’ heavyweight. However, things turned ugly very quickly, as McLaren caught Dziurzynski with a vicious punch to the face, and the Senators’ rookie crumpled to the ice unconscious. It seems every year we get a handful of these fights, when one of the combatants gets knocked out and hits the ice hard. It really is amazing this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. I mean, when you get two massive people punching each other in the face on ice, what do you expect to happen? Is it going to take a death for the league to seriously consider banning fighting? Maybe when the CBC finally decides to terminate Don Cherry’s contract we can hope for some progress. In related news, McLaren and Colton Orr saw four minutes and six minutes of ice time, respectively, and spent much of that time hemmed in their own end. Good job providing a “spark” for the team though, guys.
First Line Catching Fire
Sorry, Joffrey Lupul, but it looks like you lost yourself a spot on the first line. It’s not you, though, it’s James van Riemsdyk. I understand he has a ridiculously high 16.5% shooting rate, but he’s shown outstanding chemistry with Phil Kessel since the Lupul injury and now sits fifth in the NHL with 13 goals on the season. Speaking of Kessel, he scored his seventh goal of the campaign on a power play and set up both van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak for their goals. It’s always good to have players not named Nazem Kadri find the score sheet.
James Reimer had an uncharacteristically poor game handling rebounds and seeing the puck, but he still managed to get the win. There was plenty of blame to go around though, as the Leafs’ defense didn’t really do much to help Reimer out and allowed the Senators to pepper him with 43 shots. There were numerous times throughout the game when Reimer was knocked on his rear end by Senators’ forwards and was often slow to get up, so the defense definitely needs to do a better job of protecting their number one goalie. But Reimer had a forgettable game nonetheless, and at no point was that more evident than the final thirty seconds of the game. After a harmless-looking shot, Reimer looked like he was going to easily snare the puck in his glove. However, Leafs fans’ hearts jumped into their throats when he bobbled the puck like a hot potato instead, and that turned into another late scoring chance. But at the end of the night, the Leafs escaped with the “W”, and it’s great to see Reimer back manning the pipes.