Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11: Week 20

Published by Mark on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 — View Comments

BOSTON - DECEMBER 05:  Phil Kessel #81 of the ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The week begins quietly enough for the Leafs, coming off a bad beat in Montreal.

Brian Burke pulled the trigger on sending Kris Versteeg to the Flyers, and then acquired Aaron Voros. See here for my article about those deals:

And so the Leafs head off to Boston for the 2nd game of 4 straight against Northeast opponents. A date with Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden has been almost a guaranteed loss for the Leafs the last few years. The game began with both teams playing fairly well, the Bruins getting more chances, taking the shot lead, and scoring first as Dan Paille beat James Reimer. But, Zdeno Chara took a boarding penalty when he crunched Grabovski into the end glass, and Phil Kessel got off the schnide by tipping one past Tim Thomas. Joffrey Lupul picked up his first Leaf point on the play. In the second, Grabovski waited out Thomas as he fell across the net, then Mikhail lofted it into the open net for a lead. Grabovski later took a high-stick penalty, and Greg Campbell evened things up. It didn’t look good as Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins up 3-2 with 10 minutes remaining, but Kessel turned a seeming broken play on a powerplay into a goal sliding it under Thomas. Minutes later, Chara rocked Grabovski again, and this time Mikhail stumbled around dazed for a second. But, he returned and amazingly broke through 2 defenders and lifted one over Thomas’ shoulder for the 4-3 win.

An inspired Leaf team took the ice the next night in Buffalo, another arena with little Leaf success in recent years. Both the Leafs and Sabres were coming off wins from the night previous. Toronto was able to escape the first period scoreless, despite taking the period’s only 3 penalties. The addition of Lupul on Kessel’s complimentary wing seems to have sparked Phil, as he scored to open a 1-0 lead. That gave Kessel 3 in 2 games, with Lupul assisting on all of them. The Leafs seemed more energized than Buffalo, who seemed worn out from their game against MTL. Joey Crabb got his first as a Leaf with a sparkling shorthanded effort, including a toe-drag to beat Ryan Miller. Paul Gaustad scored for Buffalo with 10 minutes remaining, but that’s as close as they’d get. Reimer got the win, coming in for Giguere who was lifted to start the second due to a possible recurrence of the groin injury.

On Friday we got word that Brian Burke had pulled off another, much anticipated deal. Rumors had swirled for some time, especially Tuesday as the Leafs played in Boston, but a few days later, Tomas Kaberle was finally sent to the Bruins for prospect Joe Colborne, Boston’s 2011 first round draft choice and a conditional choice in 2012. I will have an analysis of this deal in a later posting.

Leafs looked to make it 3 in a row, hosting the Senators on HNIC. Given the Leafs’ 4 deals, and the Senators 4 recent deals, the 2 teams on the ice were vastly different from the 2 that met on January 1. Gone from Ottawa are Brian Elliott, Mike Fisher, Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Kelly. Newcomer Craig Anderson got the start, and played very well in his debut, stoning the Leafs and their 47 shots, including some near-miss chances. Reimer had a significantly easier night, only requiring 22 stops. Unfortunately, the Leafs were unable to score at any time, and Jason Spezza’s shootout goal was the only blemish on Optimus Reim’s night, giving Ottawa a 1-0 victory. The point, however, draws the Leafs into an 11th place tie in the conference with Florida (though FLA has a game in hand), and a tie for 24th overall with FLA and Anderson’s former squad, Colorado.

Toronto Maple Leafs record: 25-27-7 – 57 pts (11th Eastern Conference, 24th overall)

Hot Leafs: Kessel (3G), Lupul (3A)

Leading scorer: MacArthur (45 pts)
Goals: Grabovski (24)
Assists: MacArthur (28)
PIM: Orr (128)
Wins: Giguere (11)
GAA: Reimer (2.20)
Sv%: Reimer (0.932)

This week: After taking 5 of 6 points last week, the Leafs can continue to make up ground, playing NYI at home, then on the road against a struggling MTL and an injury-depleted PIT.