The 2013 version of the Toronto Maple Leafs can be called a lot of things, but don’t accuse them of being boring. For the second time this week the Leafs watched a two goal lead evaporate before eventually coming back via a Joffrey Lupul one man show, followed by two empty net goals. The usual suspects played well for Toronto, and the usual thorns played well for the Hurricanes. In the end, Randy Carlyle’s crew won a game that they badly needed and came out of a dreadful stretch of six games in nine nights with a 4-0-2 record. And have now earned points in each game they have played since the 14th of March.
In the bigger picture, Toronto gave way too much life to a struggling team and it nearly cost them two points. This is a team that is trailing them in the standings, and the win gives the Leafs a 10 point cushion on the nine seed. Games like this are what fuel doubt in the minds of Leafs nation.
On to the Game
– Dion Phaneuf is a very polarizing figure in Toronto. Some love him, some hate him, everybody seems to have an opinion. He has goals in two consecutive games, and each goal effectively turned the momentum back in the favor of Toronto. The guy spent nearly the entire game on the ice against Eric Staal and Alex Semin, and did a pretty good job. Isn’t it time everybody calm down and cut the guy a break?
– After the above statement, Lupul is as big a part of this team’s leadership as the captain. Toronto plays remarkably different when he is in the lineup, with more swagger so to speak. Last year when things fell apart, Phaneuf unfairly shouldered more blame than he deserved, but the bigger issue was team leadership, meaning who were the voices after Dion that stepped up. It seems there is no shortage of these players this year.
– The penalty killing is so good this season that the Semin goal can be forgiven. To go from worst in the league to fifth in the span of one summer is nothing short of amazing. This is the stat that defines playoff teams. If only they could translate some of that team defense into five on five play, the team would inspire more confidence.
– Tonight’s maddies mark player of the game was tough, given the inconsistent play of most of the team. The one guy that seemed involved from start to finish was one that didn’t score, but was involved in a couple of goals. Phil Kessel was in the middle of everything tonight, having one of his best days ever. For more on how you can help give many more children in need best days ever, visit http://www.maddiesmark.org/