Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11: Week 14
After a win to begin the year, the Leafs hoped they could grab another 2 points from a division rival against Boston. As has been the case at times this season, they played well, but were unable to beat the better team. Tuukka Rask starred in net for Boston, making 36 saves and reminding Leaf fans about what might have been had John Ferguson Jr. not traded him. Leafs countered with James Reimer, making his second consecutive start. All in all, it was a decent game. Both the Leafs and Bruins had chances, and few penalties were called through the game. Grabovski continued his good play of late, scoring in the first period. The Bruins first line, recently fairly dormant, got some spark in the second period though. Nathan Horton put a shot past Reimer, then Marc Savard scored to put Boston up 2-1. Leafs could not get another by Rask, and Reimer also shut things down, making 31 saves on the night. Notable was the even though he did not score, extending his problems against his former team, Kessel did have a number of chances and shots , he simply was not able to convert anything.
Wednesday reports were that John Mitchell would be out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. JS Giguere is still a week or so away, as the decision was made to err on the side of caution where his groin injury is concerned. Mike Brown is expected back possibly early next week. In all it means Boyce, Crabb, Brent and Reimer will all get their chances to play a few more games, with a call up coming as the Leafs leave for a road trip on Friday.
Thursday night, and another team the Leafs have an awful time beating. St. Louis was in town, and much of the talk swirled around the 3 former first round picks of the Maple Leafs (Boyes, Steen and Colaiacovo) who now wear Blues uniforms. The game began well enough, with Colby Armstrong deflecting a Versteeg shot past Halak 15 seconds into the game. However, as St. Louis seems to do, by the end of the first, they led 2-1 on goals by returning Steen and rumored future Leaf David Backes. The Leafs were outshot in the second, but dominated the scoresheet, as 2 of the hottest players, Grabovski and Versteeg, were joined by Kessel in scoring 3 goals in a 4 minute span to chase Halak from the net. Kessel scored on a giveaway as he wired it past Halak. Early in the third, a quick breakout from Komisarek sprung Kessel to wire one past Conklin who’d taken over. But the Blues would not go away, as Gustavsson looked very shaky in the third, and the Leafs saw a 5-2 lead evaporate. Winchester on a scramble, Brewer with a laser and D’Agostini on a breakaway deke scored to send it to overtime. Nothing settled it went to a shootout, where the Blues scored twice, but Grabovski, Versteeg and Bozak all beat Ty Conklin to salvage the win.
Friday and on into Atlanta, who are in a playoff position and are being led by strong play from Pavelec, Byfuglien,Enstrom, Ladd and others. Reimer got another start, his 3rd in 4 games, causing Leaf fans to wonder if maybe doubt is creeping in about Gustavsson’s ability to be a #1 NHL goalie. Considering the past 2 games, an early goal by Enstrom seemed as though the Leafs would have a tough night. But Vertseeg was able to score, followed by Grabovski with Ben Eager in the sin bin for 4 minutes. Leafs broke it open in the second period. Armstrong, Kulemin and Grabovski scored between 12:06 and 15:15. At 17:05, Ben Eager sucker punched Armstrong (earning Eager a 5 minute match penalty and a 4 game suspension) forcing Armstrong to leave the game). The normally anemic powerplay used that 5 minutes to score goals from Kulemin, MacArthur, MacArthur again and Kessel. Cormier and Ladd scored for Atlanta late, but the 9-3 win was sealed. Kulemin (2G, 2A) and Kaberle (4A) were scoring stars, while Grabovski (2G, A), MacArthur (2G, A) and Versteeg (G, 2A) also had big nights. Somewhat lost in the eruption of goals, Reimer posted 41 saves.
Maple Leafs are on a little bit of a roll now heading out west for 4. They are 3-1 since January 1, and have scored at least 5 in each win.
Record: 16-20-4 / 36 points (13th Eastern Conference)
Hot Leafs this week: Grabovski (3 G, 2A), Kaberle (5A)
Points: C. MacArthur (33)
Goals: P.Kessel/M. Grabovski (17)
Assists: T, Kaberle (27)
PIM: C. Orr (102)
Wins: JS Giguere (8)
GAA: J. Reimer (1.87)
Sv%: J. Reimer (.947)
This coming week: Grab a couple afternoon naps this week… @ LA Kings Monday, @ San Jose Tuesday, @ Phoenix Thursday, back home to face Calgary Saturday.