By: Adam Basciano
Prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers, my friend Dave and I suggested it would be a high scoring contest. We were right as the game ended 6-5 in overtime. The Maple Leafs seemingly chose not to play defense, while the Edmonton Oilers apparently can’t play defense. Both teams had offense on their mind pretty much the entire game. It was basically first save wins, and Bernier made that save late in the third period to keep the Leafs in the game. On the strength of two goal games from Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk, along with an early goal from Nazem Kadri, regulation time ended in a tie. Overtime saw a goal from Dave Bolland, who converted a 3 on 1 rush into the game winning goal. This wasn’t pretty (well a few of the goals were), but two points is two points and we’ll take them.
Next up for the Leafs was a match with the Minnesota Wild. I was at this game, and Leaf legend Wendel Clark held the door open for me as we entered the building! This is the second time that’s happened to me, so you can bet when it’s all said and done these events will be marked on my tombstone! Anyways, despite being heavily outshot 37-14, great goaltending from James Reimer and timely power play goals lead the Blue & White to a 4-1 win. Early goals from Tyler Bozak and Marlies captain Trevor Smith, gave the Leafs an early lead. The Wild would answer back with a Power play goal. The “Everybody Loves Raymond” marathon took over as Mason Raymond would score a power play goal, followed by an empty net goal, thanks to an unselfish decision by Phil Kessel. My friend and I credit the fact that we wore Leaf hats to the game (which we never do), as a key to victory. However, I had a secret unnamed good luck charm which I believe guaranteed the victory!
Now the bad news, After getting out to a 2 goal lead against the Carolina Hurricanes courtesy of goals from Joffrey Lupul, and the first goal of Josh Leivo’s NHL career. That lead would hold up until the third period. A series of unfortunate events would follow that would see Carolina score three unanswered goals to win the game. The first goal came while the Leafs were short-handed, after the puck deflected off Dave Bolland and in. The second goal played out like a moment from the NHL 14 video game . Leafs defenseman blocks the initial shot, however the puck found its way back to the initial shooter, and he makes a perfect shot. The third goal came off a Hybrid icing call, where one referee signaled icing, while another called Icing off. Some will blame Bernier’s positioning on the play. But can you really fault the guy? He thought it was icing and he saved our ass in almost every game he’s played this season.
The final game of this 4 game set saw the Maple Leafs lose to the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. The first period was decent and pretty even. The second period was an absolute disaster, as the Leafs seemed like passengers just admiring the talent the Blackhawks have. The Leafs just didn’t play the game. They were outshot again, this time 40-20 and didn’t capitalize on two power plays that could’ve got them back in the game. Nazem Kadri scored the Leafs lone goal in the 3-1 loss and Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves.
The Maple Leafs will try to get back to winning when they take on the Anaheim Ducks who have won 7 games in a row.