The Toronto Maple Leafs battled the NY Islanders in what wasnâ€™t a must win game, but rather a smart game to win. January was starting to look very bleak and the boys managed to turn that around. But to fully turn it around we need a win tomorrow night. Round 2 next.
1 â€“ The Leafs are 24-19-5. I hated watching most of this game, but thatâ€™s a good thing. We looked solid defensively which created the boredom but means good things going forward.
2 â€“ Mark Streit scores Nazem Kadriâ€™s fifth goal on the season which was credited to Matthew Lombardi. After getting one more he isnâ€™t heating up, heâ€™s already red hot having scored four goals in his last four games.
3 â€“ Sure Tavares worked on his skating. You can read it in the one of the latest issues of the Hockey News (didnâ€™t get paid for this line) or you can see it on Leafs TV but he canâ€™t be allowed to blow through two defensemen like that. It was just a bad read and gap control. He will be a special player as he has exceptional work ethic. Continues to grow in all aspects of the game.
4 â€“ Sometimes we struggle getting the puck out of our zone even against teams with a decent forecheck. Sure, Liles has been sorely missed but even so, itâ€™s one area of the game that must be addressed. Also, the breakout and neutral zone against a team that tries to take away that part of the ice isnâ€™t functioning on a level that can be described as satisfactory. If a team gives us the neutral zone, weâ€™re dangerous. If they adjust, which most NHL teams do, we have trouble penetrating. On occasion, passing is all over the place. Tough to play an effective dump and chase because of the size of our forwards.
5 â€“ It was a better second period as the Leafs managed to get the cycle going and created some good offensive zone pressure. 12 minutes into the second and the Isles were struggling to get one shot in.
6 â€“ Nino Niederreiter got word on a Phaneuf train coming, didnâ€™t get it soon enough.
7 â€“ The Lombardi, Connolly, Kadri line looks really good, it was surprisingly effective on the forecheck. Kadri looks a much improved player, stronger on the puck, making better decisions with it.
8 â€“ Jonas Gustavsson didnâ€™t have a lot of work tonight, but came out big when he needed to be and got another shutout. Can we please stop the questioning of him starting hockey games?
9 â€“ The Tuna makes himself all slippery again as he solves the game with a fantastic shift where he wasnâ€™t going to be denied. After a fantastic rush and pass, he gets one more chance after a great feed by Lupul, he breaks just right and puts it in. Going to the net does good things for your hockey club.
10 â€“ Big defensive effort by the Leafs limiting the Islanders to 25 shots. They also shut down John Tavares, who was riding a 12 game point scoring streak during which he scored 21 points, including 8 goals.