The Toronto Maple Leafs have won a game. In the National Hockey League. The game winner came from you-know-who. This is not a drill, this is not April Fools. This is a thing that actually happened, for the first time since March
Lets skip the first period entirely. There were twelve shots on net, nobody really had control, nobody scored, and there was only one penalty. Yawn. Next. Fifty seconds into the second period, Cody Franson finds himself deep in the offensive zone and waits for someone to help him out. Jay McClement shows up in front of the net, and suddenly, the Leafs have the lead.
It survive the period, however. Much like the Franson giveth, the Franson taketh away, and seemingly forgot to cover his man, in this case, Matt Stajan. He hid off to side, and Stajan skated as fast as he could to freedom. By freedom, I of course mean Bernier, and the game was tied.
The third period saw things look up. You know who’s a favourite player to the average fan? David Bolland. You know what’s a great excuse to them? The bounces. You know what would be the best thing ever to them? David Bolland working the bounces. That’s what they got; a chip by Bolland that bounced off of TJ Brodie and into the net.
But even still, they weren’t done. A Leafs player found himself on a breakaway. Not just any Leafs player, but David Clarkson. You know what, though? He got the job done.
It wouldn’t be the Leafs if they didn’t find a way to goof up before the final whistle, however. Check out awesome defensive play against Kris Russel:
Why The Leafs Won
Seriously though, lots of small things. They were out possessed (what a shock). There wasn’t much of a shot edge. Bernier looked really good, but not “take over the game” good. Just a little more “right place, right time” than “wrong place, wrong time” and it worked out in the end.
Going to go all Don Cherry here and give this to somebody for their #grit and not their overall play. The shocker? It’s Phil Kessel. He seemed in severe physical pain after Saturday’s game, due to a blocked shot using the lower part of one of his legs. What does he go out and do tonight? Stand in the lanes. He found himself on the ground in pain once or twice, and eventually got frustrated, but gutted it out, played 17 and a half minutes, and had his opportunities.
To me, that’s toughness moreso than the “goon” approach. He’s played in 366 consecutive games since his Leafs debut, and hasn’t been so much as a gametime decision. This isn’t even the first injury he’s played through this year, making the devotion all the more impressive.