Win In Jersey
The thought of some people entering the trade deadline was that the Toronto Maple Leafs may need a veteran goaltender to provide some insurance down the stretch for James Reimer. Those people also claimed that Reimer did not have the ability to “steal” games in the way a vet like Mikka Kipprusoff and Roberto Luongo can.
Yesterday night Reimer did what the critics said he couldn’t. He stole a game in which the Leafs were heavily outshot by the New Jersey Devils and were hemmed in their own zone for what seemed like most of the game. The Devils registered 28 shots, scoring only once, and the Leafs took advantage by scoring twice on 18 shots for the victory. Reimer was labelled the first star of the game.
The Leafs only won that game due to the stellar performance of Reimer. The defensive coverage was mediocre once again, and Reimer bailed out the team on many occasions.
For the first time since the lockout, Toronto does not have a goaltending problem. It is clear that Reimer is the number one goalie for this team and that he has the ability to be the starter for many years.
Adversity seems to be the name of the game for Joffrey Lupul. He fought various injuries in his time with the Anaheim Ducks before coming to Toronto. With the Leafs this season, a broken forearm forced him to miss about eight weeks. Following his return, he would quickly find himself in trouble with the NHL, receiving a suspension for two games due to a blindside hit. Thursday night he suffered an apparent concussion from a hit by Flyers forward Adam Hall. The team has labelled it as an “upper body” injury and is listed day-to-day.
Lupul was on a six game scoring streak ever since his return from the hand injury. The way he was playing stimulated all of Leafs nation. He took the team on his back and lead the Leafs to collecting points in all of those six games. The Leafs need Lupul, especially with the playoffs coming close. With Lupul in the lineup, the Leafs could possibly sneak past the first round.
At this point, the team must handle his injury properly and make sure he is 100% healthy when he returns.
Leafs at the Trade Deadline
A top four defenseman was a need, but acquiring that type of player at the deadline was a tall order for Toronto. Therefore, the Leafs could not make any such deal.
The Leafs also needed a depth defenseman for their third pairing, and they were successful in grabbing Ryan O’Byrne from Colorado. For that reason, the Leafs did a good job on deadline day. Keeping the majority of the roster intact was the plan, and it was important to keep the chemistry going. In saying that, they did require a defensive depth defenseman to provide some relief for the bottom part of the crop. Acquiring O’Byrne for a fourth round pick did just that. If a player like Mark Fraser starts struggling or suffers an injury, the Leafs now have insurance with O’Byrne to fill the spot.
The NHL today announced that the Winter Classic game in Michigan Stadium is back on for 2014. The original game was scheduled to take place this year between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. However, the game had to be cancelled due to the NHL lockout.
Other Random Thoughts
-Matt Frattin has gone 11 games without a goal. Maybe its because one of his line mate’s are Mikhail Grabovski.
-Good decision by Randy Carlyle to get Jake Gardiner back into the lineup yesterday. I don’t think he played himself out of the lineup, so Carlyle should leave him in for Monday.
-According to SportsClubStats.com, the Leafs have a 99.2% chance to make the playoffs. Toronto sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points.
-Leafs fans are always complaining that their team has “bad luck.” What luck would it be if the Leafs make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons and face the Boston Bruins in the first round? That’s how it sits right now.
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