After back-to-back wins against Montreal and Philadephia, the Leafs find themselves off to a good start, record-wise, and will be looking forward to two days of much-needed rest before returning to the ACC for the home-opener on Saturday against the Senators.
Goaltending Off to an Excellent Start
With the back to back to kick off the season, it didn’t take long to get a taste of what life would be like with two really good goaltenders. On Monday, we saw Reimer‘s characteristic ability to battle in the crease – something we should already be accustomed do, as that’s all the guy does, night-in night-out – as well as own the Habs in their building. Last night, Bernier displayed his much-lauded positional soundness, economy of movement and poise, as he gobbled up shots with good rebound control and an impressive nonchalance in the face of 32 shots. The meaningless early stat line: 69 shots against through two games with a 0.942 combined save percentage.
It’s only two games, but you cannot deny the potential this tandem is putting on display right now. The Leafs, as whole, haven’t been particularly sharp, but both goalies have given the team a chance to win each night despite the tough scheduling circumstance. Honestly, if Leafs had a mere serviceable backup, I don’t think they would be coming out of Philadelphia with a win and a 2-0 record in hand. As the boys continue to find their legs and chemistry, knowing that either goalie is going to give you their best should provide a jolt of early confidence. Much of the Leafs continued success – because they give up so many shots – depends on above-average to great performances, and we’re getting it from the start.
Again, it’s way too early to jump to conclusions, but the Leafs benefited from some balanced scoring in the past two games, with the likes of Bolland (2G) and Raymond (1G) chipping in. Carlyle recognized the two-way play Bolland was bringing to the table last night and moved him up to center Lupul and Kulemin on the second line for a period of time. When Nonis first acquired Bolland at the draft, he was pretty adamant that the new acquisition had more to give, offensively. If nothing else, hopefully the Leafs have got more center depth than some have given them credit for.
Hopefully this 2-0 start indicates the Leafs are on their way to a decent first 10 games, because the pressure to help dig the team out of losing record would add to the mountain of probably-unrealistic expectations facing David Clarkson this season. Rather, I’ll be looking at Clarkson as that one missing piece needed to fill out a formidable top 9.
Rielly in for Fraser on Saturday?
Mark Fraser reportedly left the rink on crutches due to a banged up knee resulting from the hit he sustained from Jay Rosehill. Rosehill charged in with a pretty late check after he felt Fraser dirtied Zac Rinaldo in the corner during the third period last night. Colton Orr then pounced on Rosehill, which had Rosehill flipping out and throwing stuff because he felt Orr cross checked him in the neck region.
In any event, if Fraser’s injury is anything at all, it will open that door for Rielly to debut in the home opener. Should the injury be something serious, you wonder if the Leafs would recall a guy like Andrew MacWilliam; in terms of role, Fraser fills a certain black-and-blue function on the bottom pair of Carlyle’s defence core.
Bernier shines as Leafs win 3-1 over Flyers
Recap from PPP.
Sweet Fantasy Hockey Contest
$500 cash pool, no signup fee.
Incredible Breaking Bad-themed graphical depiction of the Leafs goaltending battle
With a combined save percentage as pure as Walt’s meth, both are gunning for the blue crease.
Penalty killing shines again in Leafs win over Flyers
5 for 6 last night after going 4 for 4 on Tuesday.
Division Preview: Detroit Red Wings
TLN continues its rundown of the Leafs’ divisional opponents.