Looks like it’s a best case scenario for the majority of Toronto Maple Leafs fans, who have local pride to blame for their commitment to the team. After days of encouraging Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, and Nikolai Kulemin to play their best but stay out of the the way of Team Canada, the worries have been lifted as both red/white/blue teams have been eliminated, and Canada marches ahead to take on the Swedes on Sunday.
Today, the American Leafs had but one goal; score more on Carey Price than the unlucky of late Canadians could on Jonathan Quick, who tends to turn into some sort of shape-shifting contortionist the second you tell him he’s playing in a playoff game. Quick held up his end of the bargain, stopping 35 of 36 shots, only allowing a tip by Jamie Benn past him and into the net. But not a single American had a shot that could best Carey Price.
Kessel played 17:00 today, his highest ice time of the tournament. In this time, he picked up 4 shots on net, and a penalty for hauling down Chris Kunitz. Beyond this, he was the most notable forward for the US. That’s not saying a ton; only Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, or himself really looked like the were in the same class up front, but this certainly isn’t a game where you can point fingers at him.
van Riemsdyk wasn’t as easy to notice, playing 12:32 and taking just two shots; one coming off of a rush that might be the only memorable play of his from this game. He didn’t do anything particularly bad, but he wasn’t impressive.
The two will play their last games of the tournament tomorrow against Finland, with a Bronze Medal at stake. In a perfect world, they use the opportunity to beg and plead to Leo Komarov to return to the Leafs at a discount.
Canada faces Sweden in the Gold Medal Game on Sunday morning. There isn’t anything particularly Leafs related at stake, other than the fact that we can all continue to point out Erik Karlsson’s occasional defensive deficiencies and hope they work in our nation’s favour.
Oh, and Nikolai Kulemin is on his way back to Toronto to get back into the Leafs’ rotation.