Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11: Week 23

Published by Mark on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 — View Comments

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 08: Dion Phaneuf #3 and ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

We’re workin’ our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away – Paul Simon

As March continues, it appears the push to the playoffs has lost much of its steam. For the past few months, the Leafs have been able to collect more than half the points available to them. But, the grind started taking it’s toll, and questions arose concerning how long this team could play at the upper limit of it’s skill. This week, the answer may have been revealed… and the run may be over.

Coming off a fairly complete loss to the Blackhawks, the Leafs hoped they could take 2 from the Islanders. But, it was not to be as Toronto played catch-up all evening. Outshot in each period, the Leafs also allowed New York the first goal, Zenon Konopka’s 2nd of the season. That was answered quickly by Keith Aulie’s first NHL goal. Frans Neilsen put the Isles back in front before Tim Brent was able to tie it up. In the third, Calder candidate Michael Grabner got the Isles out ahead again, while Nik Kulemin scored about a minute later. But Blake Comeau managed to tip one past Reimer with less than a minute to go in OT to deny the extra point for Toronto. Coach Wilson had high praise for the efforts of his plumbers, but was critical of the top 2 lines and their inability to score.

The Leafs also came up short in their rematch with Philly a couple nights later. Mike Komisarek had a brain cramp and made an easily called hit from behind on Daniel Carcillo, handing Philly a 5 minute powerplay early that Andrej Meszaros took advantage of. A bad Darrell Powe goal had the Flyers up 2-0 before Mikhail Grabovski scored. But Claude Giroux notched another, and a Lupul goal in the third was as close as the Leafs could get. It means a 3 game streak where the Leafs only secured a single point of the 6 on the table, and looking at a bigger gap to cover to try to grab 8th.

Saturday news reports said the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan was open to selling it’s stake in MLSE. An investment made for about $50 million some years ago, word is the OTPP stake is valued at something like $1.8 billion after a 17 year ownership. OTPP did confirm in a short statement that it was exploring it’s options with regard to selling its 66% stake in the sports and entertainment company, and would comment no further. It will be interesting to see what happens with this potential sale, as 2 of the most likely buyers, Rogers Communications and BCE have both declined interest.

In a long line of them, Saturday was another ‘must-win’ for the Leafs, this time against the Sabres. As many know, the Sabres are one of those teams the Leafs have lotsof trouble beating, especially with all-world goalie Ryan Miller in net. And things did not look good as Mike Weber opened the scoring early. It was a seesaw battle all night as MacArthur and Bozak scored to give the Leafs the lead, followed by goals from Jochen hect and Jordan Leopold to take the lead back. Finally, Grabovski and Kessel scored minutes apart to wrest the lead away for good. It’s an important win for the Leafs, getting them needed points in a classic 4-point situation, and showing character in a come-from-behind fashion, which they’ll need to continue if they still hope to make the post-season.

Toronto Maple Leafs record: 30-29-10 – 70 pts (10th Eastern Conference, 22th overall)

Hot Leafs: Grabovski (2G, 2A), Kessel (G, 2A), Brent (G, 2A)

Leading scorer: Grabovski (53 pts)
Goals: Kessel (28)
Assists: MacArthur (32)
PIM: Orr (128)
Wins: Reimer (13)
GAA: Reimer (2.56)
Sv%: Reimer (0.922)

This week: A tough 4 game week, facing Tampa at ACC, then on the road for Carolina and Florida, then Saturday at home against Boston.