Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11: Week 17
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin – Smash Mouth
Much was made that sitting 18-22-5, the 5 games leading up to the All Star Break, against some tough opponents, would be key to the Maple Leafs season. If they were key, then the Leafs are going to be locked out of the house for a long time. After a brutal 7-0 shutout against NYR, a surprising bounceback against ANA, and a tough 4-1 loss to WAS, the chance to salvage something depended on the performances against CAR and TB.
The week begins with Colton Orr being placed on IR, and an interesting move made to recall James Reimer, rather than a forward. This is a move that causes some joy for Leaf fans, as well as sparking speculation. Have Burke and Wilson relented and realized Reimer is the best performer in net for this franchise right now? Is Gustavsson’s chance fading? Is there a deal imminent for Giguere?
To be fair, the Leafs were not badly outplayed in the game against the ‘Canes. A powerplay goal by Joe Corvo meant the Leafs had given up the game’s first goal for the 9th consecutive contest. Shots were fairly even, 6-5 Toronto. An innocent slow shot by Kaberle eluded Cam Ward in the final minute of the first to tie it up. At the 20 minute mark, a scrum against the board resulted in some punches being thrown. Nik Kulemin jabbed Tim Gleason 3 times with a gloved hand before Gleason had enough, and dropping the gloves, he laid Kulemin out in one punch. Controversial, maybe, as Kulemin is not known as a fighter. But, he goaded Gleason on, and Gleason can chuck knuckles pretty well. Gleason got a game for it, and Kulemin left with a suspected broken beak. The second period saw one goal, a Jamie McBain slapper deflected past Giggy. The wheels looked about to fall of in the third as Brandon Sutter popped one 2 minutes in. But a suddenly hot Tim Brent scored twice in 1:11, including a shorty, to tie it up. Ward turned away some Leaf pressure, and Sutter and Jeff Skinner scored just about 2 minutes apart to put Carolina up 5-3. Mike Brown got a rare powerplay goal to make it close, but Erik Cole salted it away with a vacant cage shot. The bad from this game… no points from Grabo, Kulemin, MacArthur or Kessel. The good… every defenceman save Komisarek had a point.
On to the Lightning, a very good team in recent years. Reimer got the start, and played well. The Lightning dominated the first period, outshooting the Leafs 17-4, going 1-3 on the powerplay and leading 2-0. But the Leafs found their legs somewhat, and Reimer kept things close. An old nemesis, Dwayne Roloson, who’d handed the Leafs their first lost this season, played a great game and shut Toronto out, despite the Leafs carrying the play at times. Reimer was especially good in stopping Martin St. Louis on 3 occasions from in close. A decent test for the Leafs, but as has been the story in recent games, Toronto comes up just a little short and unable to steal points against teams ahead of them.
Word is Reimer will stay with Toronto through the All Star Break. Notable this week, Kulemin returned to play against Tampa, despite the possible broken nose. Also, in the Tampa game, Armstrong dislocated or broke a finger, but returned to the game. Dion Phaneuf is still not scoring, but has recently begun dishing out some big bodychecks, perhaps finally elevating that part of his game. Phil Kessel will be the lone Leaf representative at the All Star Game.
Toronto Maple Leafs record: 19-25-5 – 43 pts (12th Eastern Conference, 26th overall)
Hot Leafs: Brent (2G, A), Brown (G, A)
Leading scorer: MacArthur (40 pts)
Goals: Grabovski (20)
Assists: Kaberle (28)
PIM: Orr (128)
Wins: Giguere (9)
GAA: Reimer (2.24)
Sv%: Reimer (0.933)
This week: Returning from the All-Star Break, the Leafs face Florida Tuesday, then Carolina Thursday, both at ACC, then a short trip down the QEW to Buffalo for Saturday.