Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leafs look better but still fail the test

I think there is little dispute that the Boston Bruins are the best hockey team in the NHL. They won the Stanly Cup this past spring and went through the month of November without losing a game in regulation time. So why would anyone expect the Leafs to fair any better than the rest of the league? The 6-3 loss on was not exactly a disaster and nothing close to the previous 2 blowouts. The game is a good measure of how far the Leafs have come and how much farther they need to go to become a Cup contender.

Good - This game was much closer than the score indicated. For 40 minutes the Leafs skated with the Bruins but the game got away from them in the final period or at least Boston put it into high gear and the Leafs couldn't respond.

Bad - Although Jonas Gustavsson played well, he is not in the same league as the reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas. It would have been a better match up with James Reimer in net who has missed all 3 games against the Bruins. Unfortunately Reimer will not be available to play in Boston on Saturday.

Good - The Leafs were able to set the tempo of the game and play high speed transition style. You can see that teams are beginning to respond to their style and try to shut down the Leafs offense. As the team gains in confidence it is becoming more difficult for opponents to manage. They were also able to free wheel in the Bruins end much more than they have in the past.

Bad - There were still too many turnovers by the defense. As well the team won only 40.3% of faceoffs. Rookie Joe Colborne only won 3 out 13. But even David Steckel only won 3 out 11.

Good - Phil Kessel had some excellent scoring chances against the Bruins and only some great saves by Thomas presented him from adding to his goal total. Thomas made a particular good save on a breakaway. Joffrey Lupul did get a goal. But both Kessel and Lupul were both -3 for the night. Makes you wonder why the line couldn't get a more favouable match up at home?

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