This is a sad night for Leaf fans everywhere. We knew it was a long shot for a while now, but knowing it really is over always feels like a different kind of dagger.
1 â€“ The Leafs are 37-32-11 and since Tampa lost to Buffalo math says weâ€™re done for the year, donâ€™t despair, this team has shown us what it is capable of in a not so distant future. It feels good to be a Leafs fan.
2 â€“ Donâ€™t look now but Nikolai Kulemin is a 30 goal scorer in the NHL. Some experts seriously need to start seeing flying pigs right about now. Not only that, colour them blue flying pigs since it was a PP goal. Eat crow, Kuli is god.
3 â€“ Kessel was on the PK I swear he was. Was rubbing my eyes, but there he was. Signs of growth and development, no coach gives his player PK time if he isnâ€™t 100% sure he can do the job. Kessel would have never gotten a stint on the PK early in the season. What a pass and drive on the Lupul goal, and here I was thinking he was one dimensional. Here, have more crow, I hope it tastes good. Playmaker Phil.
4 â€“ Joffrey Lupul has been something hasnâ€™t he? 5 goals in his last 7 games, 5 points in his last 3. The weird part is I donâ€™t even think itâ€™s about him being hot right now, or just the fact he appreciates the faith shown and the opportunity given by Brian Burke and the Leafs organization â€“ he really is this good of a player when healthy and given a bigger role. Yeah, I liked him, but this, I didnâ€™t expect this kind of production.
5 â€“ Carl Gunnarsson didnâ€™t have the best of games tonight, turning the puck over left, right and center. In other news, Alex Ovechkin likes to dangle, his shot is extremely hard and has a tooth missing. He also had some fun with Bozak and Phaneuf tonight and scored his 300th career NHL goal. Ovechkin really needs to score to be at a 100%, it fuels him like nothing else. If he scores one, chances are he isnâ€™t done.
6 â€“ Komisarek got a couple of quick punches in on Jason Chimera in what was a very quick tilt, the only one of the night. Good to see him gaining that mean streak back, for a while there I thought the Lucic fight left permanent psychological scars that really affected his play. I truly believe he needs to play with that mean streak to have success, not only as shutdown defenseman but overall as a player. It gives him confidence and makes him better offensively and defensively when he plays with an edge.
7 â€“ James Reimer had a huge second period, stamping it with a great PK effort towards the end of it. Outstanding goaltending carried over to the third period when he absolutely robbed Marcus Johansson with a sprawling save that was the highlight of the night for this writer. When you face 41 shots and make 39 saves you pretty much deserve every compliment that comes your way.
8 â€“ Crabbâ€™s bad decision penalty might have cost us a goal, but the kid never stops working, gotta give him at least a little credit for that. Same goes for Bozak, he hasnâ€™t had quite the year offensively (14 goals isnâ€™t that bad either) but is profiling himself into a very helpful 3rd line center for the future. Also, a thing to keep in mind is that a lot of players suffer a drop in production in their second NHL year.
9 â€“ Like the way Aulie handled Ovechkin towards the end of the third. This might be a story in the making as far as the Eastern Conference is concerned. They will surely see a fair bit of each other in the coming years.
10 â€“ Congratulations Leafs, you made me proud to be a fan. Dion Phaneuf, Colby Armstrong, Darryl Boyce, Tyler Bozak, Tim Brent, Mike Brown,Â Joey Crabb, Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur, Jay Rosehill, Fredrik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek, Matt Lashoff, Luke Schenn, JS Giguere, Jonas Gustavsson, Brett Lebda (hey at least he gave us some good jokes) and last but certainly not least â€“ James â€œOptimus Reimâ€ Reimer. Book them a seat for the next dance.