California Swing and Washington: Leafs’ Week Recap

So the Leafs have gone 2-2 so far in the hardest road trip of the year, including two wins against California teams. Not bad, not bad.

Game 1: Tor 3, Ana 1 -

The Leafs were out-shot 44-23, but Bernier put the team on his back and carried the Leafs to victory. In the first period on the power play, Tyler Bozak tipped in a shot from Phaneuf to make it 1-0. Shortly after, Kessel beat Frederik Anderson on a breakaway to make it 2-0. Phil Kessel, and the rest of the 1st line were great this game,  putting up a total of seven points between them. In the 2nd, Kessel’s mighty stick made a beautiful pass to Paul Ranger on a 2 on 1 to increase the Leafs lead to 3-0 in the 2nd, against Anaheim, the best team in the NHL! That is a great place to be, but could the Leafs stay composed and keep the lead? Well if you read the title of this, then you should know they did, but Bernier did give up one goal, a Corey Perry garbage goal in the 2nd. Overall, the Leafs played  well and gave it their all, which may have not been the smartest thing to do considering the next night they played San Jose.

Game 2: Tor 2, SJ 6 -

After playing a pretty decent game against the best team in the league the night before, the Leafs dropped a big one in San Jose, losing 6-2. You have got to feel bad for James Reimer in this one too. He gets so unlucky with a game against one of the league’s best, on the bottom half of back to back games, the previous game against the NHL’s best. Reimer was definitely rested, he stopped 42 of 48 shots. That is pretty darn good, but the rest of the team was wiped out. Playing against San Jose is a difficult task to begin with, but playing them after a game less than 24 hours ago is even tougher. The Leafs held their own…for about 5 minutes, but after Jake Gardiner’s goal to even it up at 1-1, the wheels fell off the wagon, then that wagon fell down a cliff, and at the bottom of that cliff was the Maple Leafs. The Sharks then unloaded on them; 48-21 in shots, 5 more goals, 2 disallowed goals, and two or three posts and crossbars. But Gardiner scored on the PK for a career first, multi goal game…yay…positives! Anyway, the Leafs played terrible and made my boy Reimer look worse than he should have, and off to Los Angeles for the next one.

Game 3: Tor 3, LA 2 -

This is a very important game, especially for ex-King Jonathan Bernier and for ex-Leafs Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin. Oh, they both got traded already…*LOL* we won that one! Anyway, Bernier gets set to start in his former home arena and against his former starting goalie, Jonathan Quick. He gives up 2 goals, makes an unreal save on Kopitar, then gets injured and rides the bench for the remainder of the tilt. This is a perfect example of why it is great to have a reliable goalie tandem. Starter gets hurt, oh well, guess the as good if not better backup has to play now. And boy did Reimer play. Stopping 31 of 31 shots in relief of Bernier, he got the job done. Phaneuf and Gunnarsson scored, and Raymond sniped home a shorthanded goal to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead, and eventually a victory.

Game 4: Tor 2, Was 4 -

Washington came out of the gate quick in this one, scoring three goals in just under 9 minutes. Luckily for Toronto, my man Troy Bodie flung it on net and, oh my god Bodie actually scored. Bodie goes all out every shift and it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his hard work. Oh, he also has as many points as Clarkson this season in the same role, with less games, and making around $4 Million less. Now it’s 3-1 at the end of 1. At this point the Leafs are getting out-shot 14-2, but they start off the 2nd strong, and continue to play well throughout the period, racking up 20 shots to the Caps’ 6. 20 shots in one period, that’s one shot away from having as many shots as they had in the entire game versus San Jose. In that period, Dion Phaneuf scores, and for the first time in a long time, he has goals in back to back games. Things are looking pretty good at this point for the Leafs going into the third except for the fact that the top line, the most dependent line, hasn’t registered a single point together in the last 540 minutes, or 9 periods of Maple Leaf hockey. Let’s have a big period and get the monkey off the JVR Bozie Kessel line in the third! Nope, Reimer kept them in it, but no scoring in the period until 3.9 seconds left in the game when Nik Backstrom pulled a Kessel, and let Brouwer score an empty netter. This was a pretty big game in the Leafs playoff push and now have to makeup for their mistake later on in the season.

Next up is division rival Detroit in Detroit. A division win could really increase their playoff chances, it’s a big game for the Leafs.

~ Justin

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