By: Adam Basciano
Toronto Maple Leaf Fans who attended the home opener last weekend definitely got their money’s worth, as it took a shootout to find a winner. The game started off great for the home team as Mason Raymond scored a beautiful goal, off of an equally beautiful pass from fellow new Leaf Dave Bolland. The guys with the Trojan Condom logo on their chest scored two goals in just over three minutes time to take the lead. Nazem Kadri would tie the game at 2, late in the first period on a powerplay. His goal was almost a carbon copy of the first Leafs goal. He was even set up by Mason Raymond. Ottawa would take a two goal lead in the second period, with two goals in short order. True, the Leafs play wasn’t great during this stretch, but some of Reimer’s bad habits were creeping back into his game. His rebounds were gargantuan, he didn’t look composed throughout the game, and was far too deep in his net at times. As a result, in came Jonathan Bernier. In short order, he made several big time saves, which seemed to settle down his team. Late in the middle frame, Joffrey Lupul got the Leafs within one on the powerplay, with assists going to previous goal scorers Mason Raymond and Nazem Kadri. Early in the third period, Leaf fans would see a familiar two on one rush with Kessel and van Riemsdyk, resulting in a tap in goal for the man also known as JvR. Overtime would ultimately solve nothing. In the shootout, goals by Raymond and Bozak coupled by a save by Bernier, would lead the Leafs to a come from behind 5-4 win on home ice over their provincial rivals.
The first loss of the season came on home ice, at the hands of the Patrick Roy coached Colorado Avalanche. This was a fairly boring game from a Leafs perspective. It seemed like the only ounce of hard work came on the penalty kill, as well as the Leafs lone goal courtesy of Joffrey Lupul. If it weren’t for the 31 save performance from Jonathan Bernier, the score would’ve been a lot worse as Colorado outplayed us during significant portions of the game. The theme of Jonathan Bernier saving the Leafs ass continued in Nashville, as the Leafs were outshot by a 36-26 count. Yet, Bernier managed to make save after save to keep the game scoreless until after the halfway point of the second period. At that point, the tandem of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk took over. Kessel converted on a one-timer in front of the net, courtesy of a lovely feed from van Riemsdyk. JvR would then capitalize on a wrap around goal, off of a missed opportunity by Kessel. A check from behind by Mike Fisher on Cody Franson that was as dirty as Miley Cyrus’ twerking incident, put the Leafs on a five-minute powerplay in the third period. The Leafs would score twice, on goals by Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. Morgan Rielly would get his first NHL point in his 3rd NHL game. Add to that his improved play over each game, his skill, and his speed…he’s making a case that he’s ready for the big leagues. This coupled with a shutout performance, which continues to solidify to me that Bernier is our #1 goalie, and the Maple Leafs register a 4-0 win.
With 4 wins in the bag and 8 out of a possible 10 points registered, the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada.