OK, I know it says “Week in Review”, but to start off, I’ll review the first two weeks of the Toronto Maple Leafs season.
Through eight games this season, the Leafs have somehow fought their way to a 6-2 record. They have been horribly outplayed at times, they have way too many give-a-ways and they have had a few defensemen that haven’t exactly come as advertised.
All through this, the Leafs have had enough offensive contributions, from those you would expect and some you wouldn’t, to offset the negatives in their game in most of their games.
Let’s take a look at the Leafs individual games.
October 1st – @ Montreal
This game will be mostly be remembered for the horrible fall that George Parros took during a fight with Colton Orr. As to be expected, the play was sloppy. The Leafs were able to battle to a 4-2 lead and hung on to beat the Habs for a 4-3 win.
October 2nd – @ Philadelphia
Jonathan Bernier made his debut as a Leaf and made more than a great first impression. After giving up the first goal of the game, Bernier shut the door for the rest of the game while Dave Bolland scored his first two goals as a Maple Leaf to lead the Leafs to a 3-1 win.
October 5th – vs. Ottawa
The first real scare for Leaf fans as James Reimer gave up four goals on 17 shots. Reimer was quickly and Bernier came in and once again allowed the Leafs to battle back, this time battling back from a 4-2 deficit to win 5-4 in a shootout.
October 8th – vs. Colorado
The Leafs were handed their first loss via the Patrick Roy brigade. It was a hard fought game and Bernier gave the Leafs every chance to win. However, Semyon Varlamov was simply amazing as the Avalanche held on for a 2-1 win.
October 10th -@ Nashville
Another stellar effort from Bernier gave him his first shutout as a Leaf. The Leafs got goals from their top four offensive players in Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak to win the game 4-0.
October 12th – vs. Edmonton
Bernier came back to Earth as the Leafs went back and forth all night with the young Oilers team. It was a stressful night for both Randy Carlyle and Dallas Eakins as they had to watch their defense just basically watch as players put pucks in the net. Lupul scored with 31 seconds left to send it to overtime where Dave Bolland was once again the hero, finishing a 3-on-1 break to give the Leafs a 6-5 win.
October 15th – vs. Minnesota
The Leafs continued their Western Conference swing and they continued the winning ways as the Leafs kept the 13 million dollar duo of the scoresheet for the most part as Zach Parise only manage a second assist. Mason Raymond scored two goals and James Reimer was great in net to lead the Leafs to victory.
October 17th – vs. Carolina
The Leafs got off to a bad start as they lost Reimer only 32 seconds into the game after having Josh Leivo‘s knee crash into his head. Bernier would then make his second relief appearance and was great for two periods as the Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead. However, the third period was full of mistakes and a horrible bounce cost the Leafs at least a point as they went down 3-2 to the Hurricanes.
Now onto what I’ll call the plus/minus section.
Whether it’s been from Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer, the Leafs goaltending has been the biggest strength of the team. Bernier has come exactly as advertised and has given the Leafs a chance to win in every game he’s played. Reimer has proven he won’t go away without a fight with a 2-0 record so far this season.
I think its pretty clear that all the negative talk to go along with the Leafs start would go away if the number of turnovers were smaller. It is the reason the Leafs have had to battle back or barely hang on to get wins.
Plus: Special Teams
Simply said, the Leafs are second in the league on the power play and fourth on the penalty kill. If this continues, the Leafs will continue to be successful.
These two were paired together for the first few games of the season and was arguably the Leafs worst pairing. Gardiner has, for the most part, not played up to the level that he played in the playoffs last year. Ranger is still re-aquainting himself with the NHL game so it is still understandable that he is not the defenseman he was when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning years ago.
Whether it’s Dave Bolland, Mason Raymond, Morgan Rielly, Jonathan Bernier, Josh Leivo, David Broll, Trevor Smith or Carter Ashton, the Leafs have gotten some great contributions from the newest Maple Leafs. It makes you wonder what David Clarkson could do when he gets back from his suspension.
Nikolai Kulemin. Mark Fraser. Frazer McLaren. James van Riemsdyk. All of them have missed time with injuries this season. Luckily the Leafs have been able to overcome them so far. If injuries continue to hamper the Leafs, the story could change.
Well, there you go, the first two weeks of the season. It has been hard to watch at times, but the season so far can be called nothing but a success.