On some days it does actually feel great to be a Leafs fan. Such an occasion was February 9, 2013, a Hockey Day in Canada when the Leafs utterly dominated the Habs. Final score: 6-0 Leafs.
1 – The Leafs are 7-5-0 and it’s all smiles today. 2nd most road wins in the league.
2 – Good, composed, energetic start from the Buds. One minute in, the Habs give the puck away at the Leafs blueline, Kulemin stays really strong on his skates, drives to the net and passes to an open Komarov, who makes no mistake. Leo was making a difference again, playing exactly as advertised.
3 – Bozak makes it 2-0 after YET ANOTHER faceoff win. James van Riemsdyk’s good redirect is what actually got that puck to Bozie. His 4th goal of the year prompted some Go Leafs Go chants in Montreal. A lot of preseason ‘maybes’ seem to be receiving positive answers. Reimer, Kadri, Bozak, Komarov… Not to mention many people didn’t know what to expect from McClement. Now they do.
4 – I don’t usually agree with Don Cherry but the fact is that this team has a partially changed identity. I’m not necessarily talking about the 4th line, pugilism and lack of hockey skill but I am talking about blocking shots, finishing checks and winning board battles. It’s more a case of Komarov and Kulemin than Orr or McLaren. Good old Euro boys. I also don’t really mind Kostka going after Gallagher after about the 30th time the Habs crowded our goalie. The man needs his space after stoning Montreal shooters all night long.
5 – Great work by van Riemsdyk and Kessel for the third goal. Wonderful vision by Kessel to find him open in the slot after yet another good cycle by that line. Remember how last year’s team had trouble maintaining puck possession in the offensive zone? Also, D-zone breakouts against a good, aggressive forecheck made my head hurt, not anymore though.
6 – What can you say about James Reimer? Maybe the best review of his play of late is the fact nobody is thinking about Robert Luongo. Well, except Mike Gills. Stellar in the 21-shot second period, he held the fort for the Leafs making 36 saves. His save percentage sits at a sparkling .929.
7 – Kessel scored a powerplay marker after Liles got high-sticked by Bourque. JVR continued doing many good things on the ice, this time providing the screen in front of Price. 2nd goal in 2 games – thought I’d mention it because, in Kessel’s case, apparently it’s only goals that count. With an assist on that goal, Dion Phaneuf ends a bad career-high; his 10-game pointless run.
8 – Fraser and Prust fought at the start of the 3rd. I got the feeling that Fraser landed more punches, but both guys held their own. To be honest, I’m glad McLaren didn’t completely wreck Gorges towards the end. Tempers flared, Gorges took on more than he could chew. Classy move from McLaren who wore an American Pyscho style smile to boot.
9 – You know what I love? I love when I don’t need to watch a PP without having to worry about them losing the puck, slow cycles, or wild passes. Surprisingly, crisp, hard passes are slowly but surely becoming the norm. 2 powerplay goals tonight, second one coming off Phaneuf’s stick and giving Kessel three points on the night. Wonder if crisp is what Pacioretty tastes like? Grabo might know.
10 – This sequence tells you everything you need to know about the game today. Firstly, Komarov stops Grabo from retaliating. Then, Orr drives to the net and Holzer picks up the pieces for his 2nd goal of the season. Yes. For a Leafs fan, this game had all the trimmings.
10B – The Leafs didn’t just beat the Habs, they bullied them around in their own building. The “sized up,” “tougher” Habs tried to turn this into a sideshow and we had none of it. It’s not just because McLaren and Orr are on the bench. It’s the mentality, one Carlyle encourages unlike Wilson, and it’s infectious across the whole team. Holzer, Fraser, Komarov are helping, but the Leafs as a whole are showing a lot more backbone than in years past.
Enjoy this one, Leafs Nation.