For the first time since the Leafs’ 4-0 start to the 2010-2011 season, the Leafs won back-to-back games, and did so in impressive fashion, resulting in the Devil’s second loss in a row, and their 7th in the last 10 games. You can tell fan enthusiasm is starting to increase again, as I’ve counted at least 4 Leaf Jerseys on the subway ride into work today, whereas during the 8 game slide, no one dared sport the jersey for fear of taunting and ridiculing.
The Leafs controlled the majority of the game right from the get-go, starting with Grabovski opening the scoring off an uncharacteristically large rebound given away by Brodeur off a hard shot from Nikolai Kulemin. The goal extended Grabovski’s scoring streak with his 4th goal in as many games.
The second goal came off a beautiful pass from Kadri to Kessel, who burried the puck past Martin Brodeur on the powerplay. After three games into this season, Kadri now has three points (two assists last night) and is looking more and more comfortable playing with the big club as time goes by. One can easily tell that he is becoming accustomed to playing alongside Bozak and Kessel, however only time will tell whether or not he remains with the team after he is evaluated over at least a 10 game period.
The third period sealed the game for the Leafs, as Kris Versteeg burried another power play goal after New Jersey’s Matthew Corrente took a two minute penalty for cross checking. Kris Versteeg is currently running on a mini hot streak, scoring his third goal in two nights, and now has five points in the past four games. The power play goal was Toronto’s second of the night, and 6th in the last two games. The Leafs are now currently placed 14th in the league on the power play, moving them up from the NHL’s basement in terms of power play efficiency.
The night saw a lot of positives for the Leafs. Jonas Gustavsson was absolutely stellar in net, saving 29 of 30 shots, with the lone goal going in off an unfortunate deflection at the side of the net. Jonas is making a case for himself to become the number one goalie, and in the past 2 games he has saved 34 of 35 shots. His save percentage last night was a solid 0.966.
At the other end of the night, Brodeur was equally good, making a few key saves that could have easily vaulted the Leafs several goals ahead of the Devils. Brodeur left the game in the third period with nagging pains to his elbow, and was replaced by Johan Hedberg.
The Leafs are starting to look like more of a confident bunch. They are making crisper, smarter passes, and are making simple plays that pay off. They are also crowding the net and driving to it hard, making it difficult for opposition goalies to see the puck. If the Leafs keep this up, they will fare much better than their record entails.
Aside from this, we have to realize that this is only two games, against two relatively weak teams, and while the Leafs have looked good the past two games, a true test awaits on Saturday night, where the Leafs will face every Leafs fans’ most hated rival: The Montreal Canadians. Leafs vs. Habs games are always entertaining, and one can only assume that Saturday night’s affair will prove to be the same. The Habs have been surprisingly good this year, and the Leafs will be sure to have their hands full tomorrow night. In the meantime, they will rest easy today knowing that the city has laid off on calling for a sacrificial burning of Kessel, Wilson, and Burke.
If you missed last night’s affair, check out the highlights of the game in the convenient “Game in 6 Minutes” video, posted below