A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight’s matchup.Â Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.Â Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.
Here are some notes from this Thursday night tussle:
-Who else was rooting for Antropov and Kubina to have absolutely monstrous games tonight?Â Sorry guys, this is not born out of any burning desire to see you succeed.Â But the trade rumors linking these two to the Blue Jackets have been floating around for weeks now, and it would definitely not hurt their likelihood if the two big players showed off their skills directly to Columbus management.Â Antropov did not dissapoint as he potted his 19th of the year on a first period powerplay.Â He also displayed slick hands in tight with a pretty go-ahead goal in the second period. Some bullet point-shots and decisive play by Kubina hopefully had Scott Howson drooling at the prospect of adding these offensive pieces to his lineup.Â Conversely, I’m sure there was a large portion of Leafs nation drooling at what pieces we could garner for our rebuilding effort. Hey Scott, we’ll take a 1st and Jakub Voracek.Â We can dream, can’t we?
-So much has been spouted lately about the resurgence of Jason Blake that you wonder if anything is left to say.Â Just consider this:Â if Jason had played this way last year, that surely would have been the missing dynamic to put our club into the playoffs.Â This is not to say it would have been the best move for the Maple Leafs, as a rebuild was likely inevitable.Â It would also not have magically made us into a contender, but the transformation of a fairly ineffective member of the forwards corps into a constant offensive threat would have worked wonders on this club.Â We can dream, can’t we?
-On that note, Blake and his partner in crime this year, Dominic Moore, teamed up for an unfortunate collision that directly lead to Columbus’s first goal.Â After all the hard work these two put into their games each and every night, I’m willing to cut them some slack on this one. They tend to compensate (and then some) through goals like the one they generated in the second period (even though Jamal Mayers cashed in).
-Hopefully Luke Schenn just adds the ill-advised pinch on that same Columbus goal to his growing book of NHL do-not’s.Â On the other hand, he apparently already has “kick ass and take numbers of any and all punks” written in his book of NHL do’s, as he manhandled Jared Boll onto the seat of his pants after the Blue Jackets player took a run at Justin Pogge.
-Speaking of everyone’s favourite goaltending prospect, he had a very strong first period.Â There wasn’t much he could do on any of the goals other than the Umberger snipe where his glove hand was a bit slow to show up.Â However, it’s a pretty fair assessment to say that he played well otherwise, and should ideally see another start in the near future.
-On a side note, there appears to be trouble brewing in Habs-land as reports have been made surrounding Canadiens players and criminal connections.Â More details should be revealed tomorrow, but speculation has run wild on the internet (is anyone surprised by this?).Â We’ll soon see if this is a classic case of small news being blown out of proportion in Montreal or some serious issues.
One can only hope that Toronto’s remaining games are very similar to this one.Â Strong, character-building and honest efforts from the whole squad.Â This cultivates the right mentality in a young rebuilding team while continuing to increase the trade value of our most desirable assets.
As always, interested to hear your thoughts.