Leafs light up Tampa Bay

Mike Smith January 3, 2012 4

The Game

The Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill unit came to life tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Leafs killed off five penalty kills in total including a 5-on-3 disadvantage that helped change the momentum.  This helped lead Toronto to a 7-3 victory.

(Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bench

Nazim Kadri just keeps shining offensively.  Although he has some faults in his defensive game, he is getting the chance to work on it with the big team.  That kind of confidence by Leafs Management will go a long way with Kadri.  I had often thought that Luca Caputi might make his way up to the Toronto Maple Leafs and show the same flashes of brilliance, but he never produced in the AHL.

Joffrey Lupul looked like he was playing on a different level all together tonight.  He finished the night with one goal and three assists, keeping the puck on his stick with ease.  Lupul, when he wants to, looks like a superstar on the ice. It may just be his line mates this year or it may be the coming out party for Joffrey Lupul.  Time will tell.

Defensively the team played with some improvement.  Better yet, they managed to knock down five out of the five penalty kills.  This is a great stat for Coach Ron Wilson to put on the white board tonight after the game and drive home the importance of special teams play.

Steve Downie and the pest factor

Steve Downie is hated by more than a few players and fans alike, not just because of his “career changing” dirty hit on Dean McAmmond, but because of his pest like relentless attitude.

You need this “pest” type of player on your team in order to send messages and keep the other team thinking.  The Leafs still have Darcy Tucker on the salary cap this year, however he doesn’t count.  Word is he has been hanging around “Alumni” and “Special Events” with TML, there is a possibility Tucker is looking for a front office job.

So who was on my radar to fill in the pest position?  My argument is for a player like Ranger’s Sean Avery who just cleared waivers.  Is Sean Avery the piece of the puzzle the Leafs are missing?  It is an argument that can be met on many fronts.  Mine starts and ends with what the city of Toronto is.  It is the cultural capital of Canada according to many.  Just the type of town that someone like Avery could find himself at home in while he gets a shot at his “second chance”.  That is all he is looking for in his NHL life; a chance to show he still has it as a player. You get grit and character along with a player who can score.  I thought it might be worth the shot.

The Trade

Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Tuesday that the hockey club has acquired forward Nicolas Deschamps from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Luca Caputi. Deschamps has been assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Deschamps, a 21-year old native of Lasalle, Quebec, was originally Anaheim’s second choice, selected 35th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. This season the 6-1, 182-pound forward played 35 games for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch collecting five goals, two assists and seven points with 10 penalty minutes. In 2010-11, he played 80 games for Syracuse and tied for third in team scoring with 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists). He ranked first (tie) in QMJHL scoring in 2009-10 when playing for both Chicoutimi and Moncton during which he had 96 points (39 goals, 57 assists) in 64 games played.

Caputi played 21 games for the Toronto Marlies this season registering two goals and one assist along with 10 penalty minutes. In 26 career games with the Leafs he earned six points (one goal, five assists) and 14 penalty minutes.

3 Stars

Dion Phaneuf

Nazim Kadri

Joffrey Lupul