MUCH BETTER (POST-GAME OPINIONS)
What a difference 24 hours can make. After an awful showing against Crosby and the Penguins last night, the Leafs bounce back with a dominating win over the Rangers by a score of 6-3. The top line produced, Franson returned, and Reimer is hurt (gasp). A much better performance by the Leafs in general.
Coming into this game, the Leafs were in a bit of a rough patch: they just lost to the Penguins 5-2, Kessel was criticized for his lack of effort, and a jersey was thrown onto the ice. When the puck dropped, it looked like the Leafs were the better team, as shown in the games first goal from Franson who fired a bullet after receiving a pass from Kessel. The Rangers did tie it up late by a breakout play that lead to a Nash goal.
Once the second period started, the onslaught began. It started with Kessels first goal of the season, with Franson returning the favour by passing the puck to him for the empty net. As this was Hometown Hockey on City with the main focus being London, Kadri got involved on the score board as well, with JVR sending him the pass for his first of the season. Speaking of JVR, he also scored a beauty short handed goal that slipped past Lundqvist, which stunned the New York crowd (that goal was the game winner).
Former Leafs Stempniak scored a questionable goal later in the period, but the bad play resulted in two straight goals from Bozak and Clarkson (gasp) before sending Lundqvist out of the game. The third period was unmemorable, but Reimer got nailed by Moore in one play that sent him out of the game and to the hospital. His condition is unknown so we shall see. Nonetheless, the Leafs got it done and marched on to a commanding victory.
1) The top line came to life. Like I said, what a difference a day makes. After making the Leafs look bad the night before, the top line combined for 7 points total by nights end. Kessel had his energy back, JVR was a presence in front of the net, and Bozak was just being Bozak. Kessel in particular had a really strong turnaround performance, especially after the comment he made about his line's play. JVR was also strong in his play, highlighted by two shorthanded breakaways and smart decision making. Bozak kept his goal streak alive as he now has three goals in three games. Maybe Kessel should be hard on his line more.
2) The Leafs really got to Lundqvist. Without Gardiner in the lineup (which surprised me when I found out), you would think that the Leafs would have a tough time trying to get plays started. Yet, unsurprisingly, they proved me wrong and made the most of all of their opportunities against The King. The second period was the main point of the good play by the Leafs as they took their time to make plays and made Mr. Consistent look silly. He let in 5 goals on 13 shots in the second period and he was done for the night. Hey, if the Leafs can do that to every goalie, then they should be fine.
3) Hungry and ready to play. As mentioned this morning, both teams got a whopping going against them by their opponent. You know that they would be ready to play and improve their performance. From the puck drop, the Leafs were that team and they proved it based on their dominating performance. Yes, they were outshot by the end, but its not by much (Just two). However, when it comes down to it, the Leafs just had the hunger and fight in them to get the two points needed to gain some confidence back. The Rangers, on the other hand, were not. Good job by the Leafs for taking advantage of that. They just need to do that consistently every game.
What can be taken from this game
Look, just because the Leafs won on the road, that doesn't mean their is bound to be a repeat of 2011-12 (where the home/away record was like Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde). It is still early on in the season, the true judge will come once December comes around. Basically, if the Leafs are bound to show that they are a good team, then tonight was step one. This looked exactly like the team that hammered Detroit in a 5-1 win in the preseason finale, and I like that team.
The only question now is, can the Leafs keep the magic going? Their is a steep hill to climb for the rest of the week, so this should test the Leafs on productivity. One can only hope that they are good to go.
As predicted this morning,
"It looks like these two teams will have a defensive battle tonight. Take into consideration that both teams were outscored and outplayed by their opponent the night before, so they should be ready to play. the score will be 3-2 and JVR will get his first point of the season, and a new guy will contribute in some way."It wasn't a defensive battle and the final score wasn't 3-2. But, JVR did register two points on the night (as did Kessel, whom I thought would score last night), and rookie Percy helped the team by setting up Clarkson's first of the season. As half was right and half was wrong, both sides will get a point.
The Leafs will get a day off before facing the Colorado Avalanche at the ACC on Tuesday. Since the Avs have not scored a goal yet (that may change tomorrow), the Leafs must have their offensive tools ready for that game