Leafs/Devils: Post-Game – We Needed Wallin!


    Let’s be honest, how many of you had either fallen asleep or changed the channel when your Leafs tied it up tonight?  In a comeback devoid of any explosiveness, Toronto teased you with the possibility of an overtime victory.  Hah! Should have known better, eh?

    Here are some thoughts from this Friday night flop:

    -Who else was a little surprised when TSN flashed their statistic about Phil Kessel (leading the league in shots with 189 since he started playing this year)?  Then you take a closer look at his numbers and realize the young sniper fires off 4.5 shots every game.  To put that in perspective, the only player with a higher shots/game ratio is some guy called Ovechkin.  With 2 goals in his last 20 games, the kid is still operating at a pace just below 30 goals per season.  Considering Phil works against multiple-man coverage on a nightly basis, those numbers alone are impressive.  A lot of Leafs fans are calling for a true star center to work with their sharpshooter.  Let’s face it, ANY other significant offensive presence on this team will go a long way into opening up space for Kessel.  As soon as opposition teams need to begin expanding their pre-game planning beyond “cover Kessel and lol if they play Toskala”, our American winger will see success.

    -“Jammer” picked up two assists tonight.  This should boost his trade value enough so we get a few sticks with the bag of pucks.  Some will foolishly claim that he’s a “veteran presence” that can provide grit or expertise on the penalty kill.  Other than being apt in the faceoff circle, we just have not seen this from Mayers in his time with the Leafs.  Good luck elsewhere Jamal.

    -When the Leafs were down 2-1, Gustavsson kept Toronto in it.  However, the team in front of him has a nasty habit of flipping him the bird and refusing to play defense.  This makes it tough to judge the rookie tender fairly.  Indeed, a swift survey of his numbers this season will suggest he’s been struggling (his numbers float around a 0.900 SV% and 3 GAA).  However, the trained eye will have noticed the Swede’s ability to get in front of shots, cover ground in his crease with remarkable speed, and exhibit stretches of superb play.  More importantly, one just has to picture Toronto’s netminder behind a capable defense to realize his statistics would be much better.  The Leafs will resign their prized acquisition and give him every chance to prove himself in the next few years.  Fellow fans, he’s got the talent.  Let’s just show him some patience.

    -On that note, somebody please slap Ron Wilson for pulling Gustavsson.  Then slap him again because he considers Rickard Wallin a NHL player (yes, the title of this blog was in jest).  But seriously Ron, pulling Gustavsson in a 2-goal game in which he is standing on his head?  We can’t know for sure what he was thinking, but the best guess is that he wanted to rest his goalie for Vancouver tomorrow.  With that one move the coach made it quite clear to his players that he had given up for the night.  How did he expect his team to respond?  The next two periods were miserable to watch as Zach Parise and co. took the lead and then suffocated their lifeless opposition.  A few lucky goals to end the night don’t change this awful coaching decision by Wilson.

    The Leafs face the Canucks tomorrow night.  Let’s hope for some consistent energy and a good game on CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada.  Expect the incessant trade-talk to continue for the next few weeks as the trade deadline approaches. Regardless, Toronto needs to focus and begin building a hard-working identity to provide them with a foundation heading into next season.

    As always, interested to hear your thoughts.



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    Nikhil has been writing for MLHS since the site launched in 2008. He misses talking about Mats Sundin and is currently entrenched in enemy territory (Boston) pursuing a doctoral degree. Contact Nikhil here: [email protected]