Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Now That's More Like It!

     Nothings sweeter for Leaf fans than beating those dreaded Montreal Canadians.  When Colton Orr and Jeff Finger score the first two it just get's better.  I'll give you a minute to digest that one.  Ok, get back on your chair.  That's right, COLTON ORR scored his first goal as a Leaf, the winner by the way, and Jeff Finger scored what ended up to be the insurance goal.

     Tuesday night at the Bell Center in Montreal, your Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadians, 3 - 0.  This was quite a turn around for them since they were shut out themselves Monday night against another division rival, the Buffalo Sabres.  This time it was the Leafs who quieted the crowd and set the tone of the game by luring Montreal into playing their style of hockey.  This was exactly what Brian Burke had in mind when he put this team together.  The defense was solid, getting in the way of shots and forcing a much smaller Montreal team to the outside all game.  Offensively, Toronto forwards were tough on the Habs, pushing them around and creating traffic in front of Carey Price all night.

     As usual Kessel and Hagman were Toronto's best forwards but they weren't the only ones working last night.  Mat Stajan had a very strong game keeping the pressure on Price and also chipping in with his eighth goal of the season.   He was perfect taking a pass from Kessel and going in alone, scoring  on Price's  glove side.  Mikael Grabovski also showed signs of life buzzing around the Montreal  net and creating scoring chances.  With  the exception of the first ten minutes it was all Toronto.

     This game came with two prices however.  Unfortunately for the Leafs, one was very costly.  After making eight saves in the first period, Jonas Gustavsson was a third of the way to recording his first NHL shut-out.  That's as close as he got however, as he was unable to return for the second period because of an irregular heartbeat.  Gustavsson experinced a similar problem with a racing heartbeat during the preseason and actually had surgery as a result.  According to Coach Wilson his heartbeat had actually returned to normal before being removed from the game.  Leaf officials maintain his hospital visit was simply a precautionary measure but have not reported whether he'll miss games. Fortunately Joey MacDonald picked up where The Monster Left off.  MacDonald entered the game at the beginning of the second and was perfect, helping the Leafs earn their first shut-out of the season.

     Last nights game was more proof Leaf fans are in for a bit of a roller-coaster ride this season.  Granted the Habs are not a cup contender and are only marginally higher in the standings than the Leafs.  However,  if you can have a must win situation in December this was one of them.  Toronto was shut-out at home against another division rival the night before.  Montreal is ahead of them in the standings and now within reach of catching, and a loss last night would have been the beginning of yet another losing streak.  At the end of the night we're still in second last, but with an effort like we had last night fans have a little more to look forward to than watching Phil Kessel rack up highlights.  Not to mention, we beat the Habs, and that's always a good thing.

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