Leafs POSTGAME – Mason Raymond is the best probably

The Toronto Maple Leafs won another one Tuesday night, 4-1 over the Minnesota Wild. Hard to know where to start with this one, but good for Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel. Towards the end of the game, with the Minnesota net empty and the Leafs up by 3-1, Raymond gained the zone and chipped a puck towards the net. Kessel, who gets criticized time and time again in Toronto for not being a good teammate and for scoring too many goals in October, let the puck go in without touching it.

Good for Raymond, who was ostracized in Vancouver and chased out of town for not scoring enough. He had just 35 goals over parts of the last three seasons after scoring 25 in 2009-2010, and already has his fourth on the year with that empty net goal. I don’t know if an empty net goal is going to do anything for Raymond’s confidence, but if that goal is the difference between 14 and 15 on the year or 19 and 20, that could mean an extra hundred thousand dollars for Raymond in negotiating his next deal. He took a chance on the Maple Leafs more than the Maple Leafs took a chance on him and so far, he’s arguably been the team’s best player. 

Oh yeah. The Leafs got out-shot 38-14 and won. They’ve been known to do that lately.


The Minnesota Wild broadcast flashed a graphic early on showing off the puck proficiency displayed by the Wild in the early going of the season. They’ve essentially been the opposite of the Leafs—shooting more than they should and winning less than they should. The Wild capitalized on some early powerplays and ran up the shot clock, but James Reimer, in goal for the Leafs, stopped the first 16 Wild shots in the game, let in the 17th, and stopped the remaining shots.

To their credit, Toronto capitalized on their first powerplay on a beautiful play set up by Kessel and Cody Franson and finished by David Bolland and Tyler Bozak. Darcy Kuemper, the 23-year-old with just three NHL decisions to his name coming in, had no chance on the first shot he faced. He looked brutal on a harmless looking play ten minutes later when Trevor Smith broke in and took a soft shot that just trickled through Kuemper’s pads. That was Smith’s first as a Leaf and gave the home side a 2-0 advantage.

Minnesota scored on the powerplay on an excellent individual effort by Jason Pominville, but that was it. Despite holding an 18-3 advantage in shots in the first period, the Wild were down one.

Reimer made breakaway saves off of Mikael Granlund and Torrey Mitchell in the second period. The Granlund one was particularly scary. He’s only 21 but already has a postage stamp with his likeness back in Finland:

The only other thing of note in the second was Mason Raymond’s nifty little goal from in tight on the powerplay. Really, with the way Kuemper was playing, was this not expected?

Kuemper was pulled after that and Josh Harding, who had played the night before, stood strong making a couple of big saves, but they came about half a game too late. James Reimer was perfect in the third period, stopping 14-of-14 and earning his second win on the season. In both wins, he’s been the game’s first star.


I hate to let a good meltdown go to waste:

In Kuemper’s two previous NHL starts, he’s had save percentages of .933, .935 and .897. He went .571 in his fourth start of his career and falls to 1-3 on his career. Wonder what he was thinking about with his team down 2-0 in the first but out-shooting the Leafs at more than a 2:1 clip?


Hmm… how about Josh Leivo? The Leafs didn’t do a whole lot in the neutral zone in this game, getting outplayed early and going into lockdown mode with the two-goal lead in the third period. He gained the zone three times for the Leafs, once via a controlled entry, twice via a successful chip-and-chase. He played 13:51, thus far the most in his career, registering four hits and a shot on net. Feels odd to give this to anybody other than Reimer, but I figure the mainstreamers in this town may finally give Reimer his due.

…okay, maybe not.


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  • Ella A

    I’m not trying to be a pessimist or anything, because I like Raymond and I hope he keeps up the good work.

    But the problem with Raymond is that I’ve said that for the past two years, when he started off absolutely great and then disappeared for the rest of the season. I wish all the best to him and the Leafs (as much as I’m legally allowed to as a Canucks fan), and I hope his scoring lasts all season long, but don’t be surprised if he drops off at some point.

    • millzy09

      That’s fine. He’s costing us 1 million for 1 year. He’s already been key in at least 4 victories…he’s already halfway to earning that mill. If he doesn’t…its 1 million for 1 year.

  • millzy09

    One word to describe this years Leafs : Opportunistic.

    Also, maybe Nonis really is a wizard???

    Religiously reading TLN I was lead to believe that with the cap situation the Leafs would have no chance of signing both Franson and Kadri… let alone Raymond. Then when that happened (apology accepted), it was said that if the Leafs had any injuries/suspensions they would be in huge trouble cap wise.

    Tonight they were missing 4 1/5 regulars by my count (Clarkson, Kulemin, JVR, Fraser and McLaren)… all counting against the cap – as far as I know.

    How is this possible? Not being coy or anything – just admittedly horrible at math.

    • MaxPower417

      One (Clarkson) was already accounted for when those claims were made. 3 were placed on the LTIR, which has, I believe in all three cases (Kulemin, McClaren, Fraser) delayed their return beyond what their health would dictate.

      Then JVR is (hopefully) a one day thing, and they were at home where callups are easy so they just ran an even smaller roster for this game.

    • millzy09

      Three factors on top of some confessed wizardry.

      Right now Fraser, Kulemin and McLaren are all on LTIR meaning their salary is not counted toward the cap. This can be employed on injuries lasting 10 games or more both proactively and retroactively.

      Bringing up Marlies is extremely cap efficient as they almost all make peanuts with bonuses in an entry level deal that go toward the bonus cushion. Bonus cushion is not part of the 64.3m cap.

      Operating a light roster. Tonight the Leafs had one spare that wasn’t named James (injured) or David (suspended).

  • the wild fell right into the leafs trap in this one. The leafs love getting outshot and outchanced, doesn’t matter. It’s not a leafs win unless they give their fans mini heart attacks all the way through