Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11: Week 21
Call out the instigators… because there’s something in the air… – Thunderclap Newman
There is something in the air for Leaf fans. It’s optimism. A team that saw it’s 4-0-0 start disintegrate and their team fall in the standings, now comes off a week where the Leafs were 2-0-1, pulling the team up a couple notches in the standings and to within 8 of the 8th playoff spot. This comes even though Brian Burke has traded Beauchemin, Versteeg and Kaberle from the active roster.
Opening the week, the Leafs host a NY Islander team that sat behind them in the standings and has been surging also. The Isles had gone 6-1-0 since the Leafs beat them 5-3 on February 8, despite missing Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin and Evgeni Nabokov in net and making a trade for former first-round draft bust Al Montoya. Montoya had actually played well in his first few NHL games, bringing a 1.23 GAA and .952 percentage into the game. He and James Reimer were both solid, as Montoya made a couple early stops in Lupul and Kulemin before being beaten in the first by MacArthur on a wrister. Matt Moulson was able to tie it for the Isles, but Kessel was able to pop one to seal the deal as Reimer turned away everything else. The third featured some roughing and misconducts, though generally the game was somewhat uneventful. The Leafs were happy to welcome Colby Armstrong and Mike Brown back into the lineup.
A mid-week game in Montreal had the Buds looking to avenge a 3-0 loss just 12 days earlier. Jeff Halpern opened the scoring with his 10th before Kessel scored 2 powerplay goals 4 minutes apart. Brett Lebda’s first goal in a couple years chased starter Alex Auld, in for just his 10th game. Carey Price came in, and Montreal was sparked by 2 powerplay goals of their own in the second from Mike Cammalleri and James Wisniewski, before Bozak got another Leaf powerplay goal. In the third, Bozak added one more before Max Pacioretty got the Habs as close as they would get. The Leafs took a 5-4 win to even their record at 27-27-6, in a game marred by some poor officiating that resulted in missed offsides and icings. Montreal held the edge in shots, outshooting Toronto 35-28.
Saturday and back home to a Penguin team missing many familiar names as Crosby, Malkin and others are out with injury. Late in the first period, Lupul was able to grab his first as a Leaf by sliding one past Marc-Andre Fleury. Alex Kovalev, recently acquired from Ottawa, scored in the last minute to tie. Armstrong put the Leafs up again, only to have Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey give the Pens a lead at period end. The teams traded punches in the third, MaArthur and Lupul scoring, Maxime Talbot tying it up shorthanded, Phaneuf re-taking the lead and finally Mike Rupp sending it to OT. After a scoreless 5 minutes, Alex Kovalev was the only player able to score in the shootout, giving the Penguins a come-from-behind win.
The week ends the same as the last, a shootout loss for the Leafs. However, the point means the Leafs have taken 10 of the last 12 points available, and are 8-2-3 in their last 13. They have climbed into 10th in the East, and 23rd overall as they try to deny Boston having a lottery pick in this year’s draft.
Toronto Maple Leafs record: 27-27-8 – 62 pts (10th Eastern Conference, 23th overall)
Hot Leafs: Kessel (3G, 4A), Bozak (2G, A), Phaneuf (G, 2A)
Leading scorer: MacArthur (47 pts)
Goals: Kessel (25)
Assists: MacArthur (28)
PIM: Orr (128)
Wins: Giguere (11)
GAA: Reimer (2.39)
Sv%: Reimer (0.927)
This week: After another 5 of 6 points, the Leafs play a rare Sunday game in Atlanta, then a rematch at home versus Pittsburgh, next night in Philadelphia, and Saturday at home to the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.