Let me be completely honest at the outset: I didn’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to beat the Boston Bruins last night.
Boston has been a tough matchup for the Leafs in recent years, and it would have been the perfect excuse to bail on the current season.
The Bruins are also on one of those special runs that leave the opposition in shambles – they’ve secured at least one point in 16 of their last 17 games! – which certainly didn’t bode well for the Leafs. (Boston would ultimately escape Toronto with one point.)
When the Leafs took a 3-1 lead into the third period, I thought to myself, “Cue the collapse.”
I was semi-correct.
Toronto would allow two third-period goals, but this time they were able to rescue things in overtime.
From Toronto’s perspective, Nazem Kadri and James Reimer were the two heroes of the game.
Kadri netted the game winner – his first goal in six games – while Reimer kept the Bruins at bay after appearing in relief for injured starter Jonathan Bernier. Reimer did allow one shot to slip past him – the tying goal heading into overtime – but there was no epic collapse or obvious hole in his game on the night.
If Bernier misses the rest of the regular season as a result of the injury, it’ll be interesting to see how Reimer responds. Reimer excelled in his last relief appearance for Bernier against the Los Angeles Kings, but it was immediately afterwards that he and the Leafs hit a prolonged losing skid. The Leafs cannot afford for this to happen again.
David Clarkson deserves special mention as well. He tried to fight Milan Lucic. The effort is appreciated, but Lucic’s a pure beast so there’s little point in anyone trying to fight him.
In terms of the standings, Toronto remains stuck in ninth place. The Columbus Blue Jackets also won last night, keeping them ahead of the Leafs by one point. Columbus plays Chicago tonight so fix an eye (or two) on the scoreboard.
Realistically, the Blue Jackets must lose three of their remaining six games if the Leafs hope to pass them. Of course, this also involves the Leafs winning their last four games of the season.
That’s a tall task and depends on a lot of things going Toronto’s way. Last night was a good start.
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