The Maple Leafs fought to see another day by pulling out a gutsy 4-3 shootout win over the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden last night. In front of a sold out crowd of rowdy Bruins fans who again booed Phil Kessel for getting traded every time he touched the puck and chanted U-S-A when two of their scorers are Canadian and one is Czech, the Leafs managed to pick up the two points in a pressure-packed situation.
Joffrey Lupul arguably played his best game as a Leaf and most complete game since returning from back surgery and a subsequent serious infection in December. For the first time in two-and-a-half years, Lupul recorded a three point game, with two goals and an assist.
Toronto showed true character in overcoming back-to-back one goal deficits -Â the Bruins held 2-to-1 and 3-to-2 advantages by the midpoint of the gameÂ – to force overtime and then a shootout. When it looked as though the Bruins were on the verge of capitalizing on a late powerplay in the final minute of overtime, Tim F’in Brent showed some serious bollocks (as he has all season) and laid his body on the line to block a Zdeno Chara one timer.
While the likelihood remains that, with only four games remaining, the team will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, last night’s triumph only further emphasized the positives and solace fans can take into the off season months. Not only has 23-year-old James Reimer taken over the reigns and played like a top 5 NHL goaltender practically out of nowhere, but several other players have emerged as legitimate NHLers that can be apart of a winning formula. The likes of Brent, Darryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, Keith Aulie and Nazem Kadri all appear to be finding their niche at this level and will become important fixtures on the roster next season. With Brent, Boyce and Crabb there may be a bit of overlap that may ultimately see one left out, but the options at the disposal of Leafs brass and the competition it creates is nothing but a good thing.
What we’ve discovered over the final stretch of the season is that the LeafsÂ may have unlocked the most critical quality needed to drive a successful team. They just might know what it takes to win on a regular basis. Next year it has to start in October, not February.
â€œThe best thing is our teamâ€™s winning,â€Â said Kessel. â€œWhen your teamâ€™s winning everythingâ€™s good.â€
– Phil Kessel, courtesy of Jonas Siegel at AM 640
Be sure to check out Mislav’s game in 10 from last night.
Recap of theÂ Leafs 4-3 shootout win over Boston from the Toronto Star.
Maple Leafs senior writer Mike Ulmer looks at Phaneuf’s resurgence and shades of his former self.
Jonas Siegel reports that Kessel has not lived up to his own expectations, although team success is far more important than individual results.
Another piece from Siegel on MacArthur’s intent to silence naysayers.
Kyle Cicerella recaps the MarliesÂ 4-3 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday.
Other hockey links:
Happy birthday to Mr. Hockey!
Report from the Toronto Sun indicating that the Bruins and Kaberle’s agent will resume talks until after the playoffs.
The college free agent fromÂ Merrimack officially signed a two-year entry level deal with the Senators on Thursday and is expected to play against the Leafs on Saturday. Da Costa becomes the sixth player born in France to play in the NHL, and most recent since Cristobal Huet.
6-foot-3, 200-pound 15-year old first player to earn exceptional status since John Tavares in 2004. He had 34 points in 30 games for the Sun County Panthers minor midget AAA team this season.
Dobber provides his top 10 fantasy busts of the season. Spoiler Alert: Kovalchuk comes in at number one.
Last Night in Leafs Prospects
Jesse Blacker’s Owen Sound Attack squad lost 5-2 to the London Knights, who tied the series 2-2 thanks to a multi-goal game by Bruins prospect Jared Knight. Blacker recorded two penalty minute on the night with an even plus/minus rating.
Leafs Videos of the Day:
First, the beauty of a bout between Lucic and Rosehill. I recommend listening with your sound off as the NESN commentator calls Rosehill a “one-time hatchet man” and acts like Lucic is some sort of first-time fighter, before making the bold prediction Rosehill will never score 30 goals like Lucic. For the record, Lucic is 6’4″, 220 and Rosehill is 6’3″, 210:
And your game in six: