James Reimer made 32 saves and Phil Kessel scored the game-winning goal. This is not a recording. The Maple Leafs generated only five shots after two periods, and the only reason they still held the Devils to a scoreless draw heading into the third was the stellar play of Reimer. The only line able to really get anything going against the Devils was the Kessel line. Out of the 13 shots the Leafs had by the end of the game, eight came from Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. Kessel scored on the power play with a snap shot from the right circle that caught Martin Brodeur by surprise at the 7:32 mark of the third period and that was all the Leafs needed.
The New Jersey Devils entered the game as long shots to make the playoffs, six points back of eighth place, and the loss won’t help. It’s a painful skid for the Devils, who haven’t won a game since March 21st. With the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk to injury, the team just can’t score. Running into a brick wall named Reimer won’t help your scoring troubles either. There really isn’t more to be said about how good the 25-year-old Morweena, Manitoba native was last night, so I’m going to let the highlights speak for themselves.
Larceny, indeed, Mr. Bowen.
Both teams blocked a lot of shots, with the Leafs blocking 22 and the Devils blocking 13. I look at blocked shots as a bit of a double-edged sword. In one sense, it means you have guys limiting the other team’s scoring chances. In another sense, it means your team is allowing the other team to have the puck a lot in your own zone. The Leafs have a lot of big defensemen who get in the way of shots, like Mark Fraser and Ryan O’Byrne. The problem is, these guys also find themselves hemmed into the zone for long periods of time because they aren’t able to keep up with other team’s skilled forwards. Remember, Luke Schenn used to block a lot of shots, too.
It’s obvious the Leafs didn’t bring their best effort last night, but luckily, their goaltender brought one of his. There have been a lot of games this season where Reimer saved the Leafs’ proverbial bacon, but rarely has it been as obvious as last night, when the rest of the team just couldn’t generate anything. Unless Reimer goes all “Jaroslav Halak circa 2010″ in the playoffs, it will be a very short return to the post-season for the Buds.
Reimer will almost certainly get some well-deserved rest tonight as the Leafs travel to Washington to take on the Capitals. If that’s the case, Ben Scrivens will get his first start since his 40-save win against the Florida Panthers on March 26th. Game time is 7 PM.