Last time the Thrasher and Leafs shared the ice, Atlanta hung 6 on Gustavsson forcing Wilson to pull him and give James Reimer his first taste of NHL ice. Reimer stopped all 14 shots he faced in the 3rd, and left us all hoping he’d get the next start. He didn’t as Gustavsson got the next three straight starts (2 losses). That was finally enough for Wilson as Reimer then got the next two starts stopping 63 of 66 shots his faced for a .957 sv% over 7 periods of play. For those of you who are uneducated (read as: Oiler’s fans), that really freaking good. Reimer deserved a win in that Boston game, but the team in front of him could only muster a single goal. Such has been the story for the Leafs this season, their engine never running on all cylinders. Take last night for instance. 5 goals against the Blues. 5 goals given up to the Blues. Thank goodness for Grabovski being dick nasty in the shootout, or else it would have been yet another loss for the Leafs where their offense and goaltending were not in sync.
The good news though is that it looks like, for the first time this season, they just might be. Over their last 10 games, the Leafs are averaging 3.1 goals a game which would be 6th best in the league had this been their pace all season. Better still, they haven’t been shutout since December 2nd when they were on pace to break the all-time NHL shutout record of 16. Thank goodness we can stop referencing that terrible possibility. That’s the silver lining, the big black cloud is this:
One interesting thing I noticed while doing all this was the Toronto Maple Leafs up by a single goal performance over the last 3 seasons. While they were middle of the pack 5v5 game tied (16th in 3 year 5v5 game tied save percentage), they were downright horrific when they got up a goal. They just couldn’t hold a lead. The three worst single season save percentages when up a goal were the 2009-10 Leafs, 2008-09 Leafs, and the 2007-08 Leafs so they were three for three there. – Hockey Analysis
That uncanny ability to cough up a lead has extended into this season as evidenced by last night’s blowing of a 3 goal lead to the Blues. I have no explanation for why that is, but I don’t like it. The save % data isn’t available for this season, but at NHL.com they do keep track of winning percentage when leading. When the Leafs score first, they have a winning percentage of only .611. That’s 26th in the league. That’s god awful. Here’s some more silver lining though, when leading first the Atlanta Thrashers only win .538 percent of the time. So what does that tell us? In this game the first goal won’t mean a whole hell of a lot. So I’m going to buck with tradition and say whoever scores the second goal of the night will be the one to win the game.
So who gets it for the Leafs because obviously they are going to get the 2nd goal of the night and the win. My heart’s set on Mikhail Grabovski. He’s kind of really awesome. Grabbo’s on pace for a 30G, 30A season which is pretty freaking good no matter which line one plays on. Even better, he’s doing it for $2.9M. Noice.
The goalie who’ll Grabbo will be scoring on? That’d be Ondrej Pavelec who gets the start for Atlanta tonight. Pavelec is having an outstanding season this year with a .936 sv% going halfway through the season. To put that into perspective, that’s the 3rd best sv% for any goalie ever with more than 900 shots faced. Dayum. He’s pretty much the sole reason why Atlanta currently sits in a playoff position and should be fall from grace, so to will they fall down the standings. Can he keep up this phenomenal play? Only time and a Phil Kessel hattrick tonight will tell. GO LEAFS GO!