Leafs Make Sochi Debuts

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Is there a better way to spend your morning than watching two hockey games at the same time? Part of me leaned towards “going back to sleep” when I first woke up, but there were Leafs to watch! All three Blue and White representatives played their first games of the tournament at a slightly irritating 7:30 AM Toronto Time. 

Since he’s the header, we’ll start with Nikolai Kulemin. His impact on the 5-2 win over Slovenia wasn’t massive, but he had his moments. Kulemin played for 14:01 and was on the ice for 19 shifts, taking three shots in the process. Kulemin played with Artem Anisimov and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Over in the United States / Slovakia game, the world got to see why Leafs fans adore their top line wingers, as they combined with Joe Pavelski to be the most dangerous players on the ice. The two got on the scoreboard right off the bat, assisting on John Carlson’s opening goal. Just stare at that Kessel drop pass a few times and don’t try to salivate too much.

From there, the two took part in a mad scramble in front of the Slovakian net, firing away at Jaroslav Halak until Kessel’s third or fourth attempt went net bound. David Backes got the last touch and the stat keepers deemed van Riemsdyk’s whacks unimportant, giving Phil the lone assist.

The two were not done, however. Just five minutes after that goal, Kessel got a piece of van Riemsdyk’s shot to give Peter Budaj (who replaced Halak) his first goal against. In the end, JVR finished with 17 shifts and 13:51 played, a +1 rating, two shots, and two assists. Kessel played 14:17, took 19 shifts, was a +2, had a goal and two assists, and was named the game’s first star.

All three Leafs will play their next game, each other, on Saturday at 7:30 AM.