Leafs/Wings Post-Game: Streaks and Surprises

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    Jonas Gustavsson.  Phil Kessel.  Matt Stajan.  (Ok that last one was just to mess with you).  The Leafs continued their point streak and began a hopefully lengthy run of wins with a victory over the visiting Red Wings tonight.  It was an admirable performance across the board tonight as followers of this Maple Leafs squad hover in a state of trepid excitement.  One thing we can be sure about is that Gustavsson has given us a level of goaltending not seen in these parts for quite a while.

    Here are some quick notes from this Saturday night shindig:

    -I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was surprised that Jason Blake did not pout when Phil Kessel “finished off” his tip in.  The duo had another strong night along with their center John Mitchell.  Kessel was a bit gassed from the heavy workload after his long layoff, but Toronto fans should get used to the different dynamic that this gamebreaker brings to their club.  It’s been a while since the Leafs had a player that can be counted on to be an offensive threat night on end.  And truthfully, the kid’s just getting rolling.

    -What? Reliable special teams? Leafs Nation must be wondering if Christmas came early because this is a trend that is not dissapearing.  The powerplay has been efficient for a few weeks now.  A slick Tomas Kaberle is quarterbacking what has become an exceptionally well-controlled extra-man unit.  They have displayed extraordinary patience and are often seen simply wearing out the opposition until they cash in.  In this case, the extra dimension that Kessel injects is amplified by the additional one-timer option.

    -As everyone is well aware, the biggest story of this game was Jonas Gustavsson.  All night long the Swedish tender frustrated a persistent Red Wings offence.  Surprise surprise…solid goaltending begets improvements across the board.  To name a few: an aggressive penalty kill, fierce board-play, and confident defenders.  On one hand, it’s sad that he did not secure a shutout as he deserved.  Yet this writer is glad that we got to avoid the inevitable cringe-worthy headlines about how Toronto’s netminder laid a “Goose” egg.

    Fellow fans, expect a backlash of “check your expectations” from the Toronto media.  Be prepared for an onslaught of “PLANNING THE PARADE?!?” from snide fans of other teams.  I urge you otherwise.  Enjoy it for what it is.  Bask in a stretch of great play by YOUR team and pray to anyone that is listening for it to continue.  Oh, did I mention that Wayne Primeau started the scoring?  And Jeff Finger added in a snipe of his own?  A night of surprises indeed.

    As always, interested to hear your thoughts.

    Cheers,

    Nik