James Reimer almost had a shutout on his 24th birthday, showing us the goalie we all remember from last season’s miracle run to 10th place. He was positionally sound and made a few huge stops to keep the Lightning off the scoreboard for most of the game, ultimately letting in a late goal forcing the Leafs to only win 3-1.
The Leafs showed that they are making some progress under new coach Carlyle, even though the Lightning didn’t have a good game it is definitely nice to see some positive progress. Our Maple Leafs actually played the trap system in the third period when up by three, something I personally have never seen (or just don’t remember). They also showed that they can indeed perform a proper breakout and they didn’t get crushed by the usual score effects they suffer from, finishing with a plus 3 team Corsi while leading for 59 minutes.
Carlyle chose to match the line of Connolly/Steckel/Crabb against 50 goal scorer Steven Stamkos and the line did a very nice job. They frequently set up a cycle in the offensive zone and finished with a -1 Corsi, very impressive against the star Stamkos.
Mike Komisarek did not impress again: he was on the ice for nine shots against and only two for through 8:30 of even strength ice time. It would be the easy thing to do to blame Komisarek on Tampa’s lone goal – it wasn’t completely his fault, but you have to be able to clear the puck from your zone late in the game. Here’s the video of the late goal against Reimer:
Leaf of the Night
Two Leafs are deserving of the Leaf of the Night honours, the first being James Reimer. Reimer was able to rebound from a tough loss in Florida, where I thought he played pretty well, and came within 30 seconds of his fourth shutout of the season. This save is something that we’ve been yearning for since Brian Gionta concussed (or didn’t) Reims in October:
1 G 23:29 TOI
The second Leaf of the Night (as you probably already guessed) is Jake Gardiner. Jake played as good of a game as I’ve seen him play all year and is really shaping up to be a nice surprise. Jake played strong defensively, co-leading the team in Corsi for the night while playing 23:29. I’d put money on this goal winning TSN’s Highlight of the Night:
The Leafs played a very strong game and while the Fail for Nail types may not like this result I think its critical that the players learn they can win with Carlyle’s systems and (as we say all too much) build some some confidence and momentum for next Fall.