So it appears that we can all enjoy hockey once again. There’s nothing Leafs Nation enjoys more than a convincing win over the Habs. That’s exactly what happened on this HNIC Saturday evening.
1 – The Leafs are 1-0-0 and this is a good start. Not because the Leafs played a terrific game, but because the decision making paid off and because the progress under the coaching staff is becoming noticeable.
2 – So, the bad powerplay continu… Kadri! He makes a very good start to his NHL season. When you’re a player that took as much stick as Kadri has for his development rate, you can really use some confidence early on. Not that there’s ever a bad time for getting confidence.
3 – Brown and Prust went at it early, both guys holding their own and providing a solid, fast scrap. Besides yet again threatening police cars with torches prior to the game, Habs added grit to their lineup as well.
4 – If a top D pairing spot wasn’t evidence enough, then the ice time and situational play is – Mike Kostka has the complete confidence of Randy Carlyle. So much for easing a guy into the big leagues.
5 – Color commentating is always a good thing. “At least he (Scrivens) is able to stop the puck.” Because a goalie’s main job is to sell hot dogs. Anyway, Scrivens was solid, while good defensive coverage and physical play was present throughout the game. This is positive.
6 – Bozak gets the rebound and breaks the camera after some great work by Phil Kessel on a second period powerplay. That was also the second PP goal of the night for the Leafs – again, it always helps if your powerplay gets confidence early on in the season. It’s especially sweet when that confidence comes from a dumb penalty by Plekanec.
7 – I won’t name any names, but certain US defensemen who have buyouts hanging over their heads, played for the Habs and wear No8 didn’t play all that badly tonight. Progress, thy name is… oh we said no names.
8 – As predicted, the Kadri line was a handful for the Canadiens. Kadri’s skill and noticeable increase in physical play coupled with van Riemsdyk’s size and Komarov’s work rate (Leo with eight hits) makes up a good multipurpose line.
9 – Looks like the Leafs have started to buy into the system and realize what is expected from each and every individual on this team. However, this early in the season looks can be deceiving. The Habs looked sloppy and that certainly played a part in the Leafs looking as good as they did. Gionta’s late goal and Canadiens’ late push made no difference in the end, although it was hairy.
10 – On a night where you win against your biggest rival in their home opener, there isn’t much to say except be glad about the start and the possible progress this team made under Carlyle. So far, all of the choices made (Scrivens, Kostka, line combinations) seem like good ones. For now, let’s enjoy it. The NHL is back.