Jonas Gustavsson stopped 24 shots on his way to a 4-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets tonight landing him his second career shutout. Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs dominated the game with strong offensive pressure that didn’t let up from shift to shift. A very confident team showed up to play and managed the puck through all sixty minutes. This type of play reminds me of the early season Toronto Maple Leafs. We should see this positive play follow through to Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Dion Phaneuf took a puck in the face with less than four minutes left in the game and had to leave the ice. It looked ugly and will need some major repairs I am sure.
Speed seemed to be the name of the game tonight against a tired Winnipeg Jets team. Mikhail Grabovski looked like he was skating a level above everyone tonight. This young team has some great players that will need to continue the impression campaign as some Leafs get ready to come off IR.
No doubt about the impact Nazem Kadri has shown in his call up to the big team. Kadri looked a little flat tonight, but for a guy with five points in nine games he can take a night off. I will be the first to pile on him if he takes more than a night off. Kadri has become one of my favourite players to watch and pushes the defenders back with his quick speed and stick work leaving him an obvious candidate to stick around.
Jonas Gustavsson showed with his shutout why he should be in the nets every night. This team looks completely different in front of him. The Leafs seem to play a better defensive role while he tends net, not allowing complete breakdowns which often allows for easier break outs. In my eyes this is an evolution in confidence, the fear of making a mistake that will lead to a goal is being erased by Jonas in nets.
There goes the Truculence
Colton Orr cleared waivers as he is headed to play with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. General Manager Brian Burke held an impromptu press conference in order to explain the tough decision he had to make. Burke spoke about his view on the NHL product as it is today, and where it may be heading. I can’t say that I disagree with him in any sense.
“If you want a game where guys can cheap shot people and not face retribution, I’m not sure that’s a healthy evolution, The speed of the game, I love how the game’s evolved in terms of how it’s played. But you’re seeing where there is no accountability, this is the by-product — is people running around that won’t back it up. To me, it’s a dangerous turn in our game,”
The one-dimensional player role is now gone for the most part. With a player as big and tough as Colton Orr, the middle weight players won’t stick their noses in for a fight. Thus leaving players like Orr sitting on the sidelines more often than not. Burke also had this to say that is by far the smartest thing I have heard a GM say about the game in a long time.
“I wonder about the accountability in our game and the notion that players would stick up for themselves and for each other,” said Burke. “I wonder where we’re going with it, that’s the only lament I have on this. The fear that if we don’t have guys looking after each other that the rats will take this game over.
“You see guys that run around and start stuff and won’t back it up and it makes me sick to my stomach.”
The Leafs can only hope that Colton mixes up his repertoire and learns some new roles while playing with the Marlies. Orr might be able to find another dimension to his game in the AHL. I am not optimistic this will happen, but one can wish.