March 25 2013 09:03PM
Photo via Jared Wickerham/NHL Interactive
We know this media market well enough to note that goaltending, goaltending, goaltending, has been a source of concern for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the years since the second lockout. The Leafs bounced through a number of names, including Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson, several players brought in as "the No. 1 guy" to stabilize the position for the Leafs since the Curtis Joseph era led into the Ed Belfour one.
A guy fell out of the sky—James Reimer—and he has been nothing short of excellent for the team in net. While the Leafs have struggled in recent years, they haven't with Reimer in net. Even with the perceived issues on defence, up front, with size, with grit, with commitment, with coaching… through all that, the Leafs are 45-28-13 when Reimer takes the net. That's a 98-point pace.
Reimer let in somewhat of a softie to allow the Boston Bruins to tie the game 2-2. But Reimer was also the reason the game was 2-1 to begin with. When Nazem Kadri sprung Nik Kulemin leading to the 2-0 goal, that was the Leafs' fifth scoring chance on the night. To that point, the Bruins had had nine. Reimer made big stops at the start of the second period on Danny Paille, Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and Jordan Caron, but after the Leafs took the lead and the Bruins pressed, there was little he or the defence could do.
Ultimately, the Leafs dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Bruins. They take three of four possible points against Boston.
March 25 2013 04:36PM
Sorry, not too much time for a preview today. After the jump is a GIF of Phil Kessel hitting Tyler Seguin. My thoughts on this game are pretty well-known. I think the Bruins are a better team than the Leafs, but Toronto has proven in their last road game that they can keep up with them, and they can prove on Saturday they can beat them.
March 25 2013 04:56AM
A few thoughts to kick off your week, and previewing the things we'll look at on this blog in Toronto Maple Leafs analysis…
No. 1 - John-Michael Liles is out, Joffrey Lupul is in
The defence will again see some changes as John-Michael Liles went down awkwardly on Saturday and limped off the ice. We didn't see the extent of the collision, but it sounds like it's a little less worrisome than we initially thought. I thought on the play there was a chance that perhaps Liles' calve had been sliced by Danny Paille's skate:
March 23 2013 08:53PM
Photo: Abelimages/NHL Interactive via Getty
In his 378 games with the Boston Bruins, Tim Thomas played a game by stopping fewer than 75% of the shots against him just 10 times. The Bruins have been a team in construction for some time, culminating with the 2011 Stanley Cup. They had the goaltending since the dawn of the post-lockout era. They signed Zdeno Chara to shore up the defence and gradually added pieces. The scoring didn't show until the Stanley Cup year, when Milan Lucic blossomed, the team added Nathan Horton, had a healthy Patrice Bergeron and junior stud Brad Marchand broke out.
But the team was always excellent in goal. Where "toughness" is used as reasoning for why teams without obvious talent win games, "goaltending" is usually the cure. Thomas played just six seasons in Boston as the starter, but was without doubt the best of his era. No matter what the team was in front of him, as they rebuilt the defence around Chara and the forwards around Bergeron, Thomas was there to provide them great goaltending.
Anton Khudobin is not Tim Thomas, and the Toronto Maple Leafs ate him up. The Bruins held the Leafs to 13 shots, but when you've lost 8 straight times to a dominant divisional opponent, a Rembrandt isn't always required. Sometimes you just need a Picasso, and the Leafs painted one Saturday. They may not have deserved a 3-2 result, but they jumped up to a 3-0 lead and held on, and that's all that counts in a playoff drive.
March 23 2013 01:04PM
Hockey news doesn't typically happen on Fridays, and hockey blogs aren't frequently read on Fridays, so we often don't post a lot of things on Fridays. However there have been a few small events that have arisen between the end of the Leafs last game against Buffalo and Saturday afternoon that would warrant a few eyeballs.
First there was Joffrey Lupul's public questioning of the league's disciplinary decisions. Then Leo Komarov was placed on injured reserve. Then came speculation that hey, maybe Ryan Hamilton will play with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel tonight. So there's lots of activity floating around, and lots of discussion, but I think we'll focus most of this on the game against the Boston Bruins tonight on Hockey Night.