I suppose you can call last night’s Toronto Maple Leafs-Anaheim Ducks matchup a statement game. The statement was, of course, that the Toronto Maple Leafs will not go winless in the 2009-2010 season. They finally won a game, beating the Ducks 6-3.
And thank goodness for that. I’ve undertaken the arduous task of covering the team this season. It was a very difficult decision, as I am a huge fan of their greatest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
So, from a personal perspective, I’d be lying if I said that watching the Blue and White woes thus far didn’t make me smile.
But as a writer–the Toronto Maple Leafs correspondent on The Hockey Writers, no less—it has been a detrimental, worrisome situation. What in the world was I to write about? I’ve made just about every excuse for the team that I could. If they didn’t win soon, I surely would have been out of a job.
So thank you, Tomas Kaberle, for your brilliant five-point performance last night. You have made it resoundingly clear that you are not only the team’s best defenseman, but the team’s best overall player.
Kaberle has had to deal with hardships like no one else in Toronto. He has been the topic of trade rumours, has had long-term injuries, and even as the teams most notable defenseman, was all but shrugged off when the new acquisitions came to town.
But after everything, Kaberle still came to play hockey. I’m sure that his pride and confidence in his abilities led him to play one of the greatest games of his career last night in defeating the Anaheim Ducks.
Niklas Hagman scored his second career hat-trick. He also, clearly, did not like losing.
“The Monster” Jonas Gustavsson was solid in stopping 25 of 28 shots. No a monstrous performance, but respectable nonetheless.
Now that the Leafs have that hard-earned number one in their W column, they can look forward to their next games with some semblance of a victorious side. They have equalled the win total of the New York Islanders and can longer be regarded as the (sole) laughing stock of the NHL.
Beating the Ducks was a difficult task and it doesn’t get much easier. The Leafs will try to start a winning streak and carry their momentum into Dallas where they’ll meet the Stars on Wednesday night.
Back-to-back victories against difficult opponents will surely lift the spirits of Leafs fans, Leafs brass, and the players themselves.
I just hope that the team doesn’t revert to its losing ways.